Valter Longo : Groundbreaking Discovery Cancer Research

The novel about this discovery, the paper we are about to publish is that we identified a method based on starvation, just a brief 48 hours of starvation, which can protect normal cells in the organism against high dosed chemotherapy but still allows chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. This is important, because one of the major problems with chemotherapy is its toxicity and therefore the side effects, and if we can find ways to separate more and more the toxicity to normal cells we now have a much more powerful strategy to fight cancer. This really does not come from oncological work on cancer but it comes from our gerontological work, our work on aging where we really focused on techniques on how protect cells. So we have some genetic manipulations for example which can protect a cell ten thousand times better against chemotherapy and other toxins compared to the normal cells.

We really use these understandings of aging systems, and at a certain point a few years ago I realized that the same genes that were controlling aging are also the ones that sort of stuck in the "on"-mode in the majority of cancers. So it came to me that if this is in fact the same genes that are stuck on the "on"-mode are present in all cancer cells, then those cells would be the ones that do not respond to the order to be protected. And there we saw that if you starve the cells, the organism goes into a high protection mode. But the cancer cells fail to enter the high protection mode and so they continue to be in a cell division mode and also a mode that makes them, at least partially, or as sensitive to chemotherapy.

Of course, in many cases starvation is not possible to cancer patients with already partially weight loss or severe weight loss. Now we are looking for ways to replace this with replacement diets and also with drugs that target anti-aging pathways. We have very promising results that suggest that we do not really need starvation. We have replacement systems that maybe are as good as starvation is. Also, we now need to test humans and that is going to be particularly challenging to find which strategy to follow and hopefully be able to organize clinical trials, looking for systems that can protect cancer patients against normal and eventually high dosed chemotherapy off all different types. Voici la piste audio en mp3

“The clinicians tell me that if it works everybody will do it,” said Valter Longo.