Saturday, January 22, 2011

A spoon of Arsenic and the cancer will be cured?

Thank you Walt Disney for giving me inspiration to the headline.

Lets’s continue the Arsenic theme. Readers of Agatha Christie know arsenic to be a poison that kills. But what is arsenic? And how has it attracted worldwide interest because of its anticancer activity?

Chemically; It is the chemical element As. It has number 33 in the periodic table. Three metalloidal forms of arsenic, each with a different crystal structure and colour, are found free in nature. The name refers to yellow, which is one of colours that natrually occuring arsenic has.

Usage; beauty and poison/insecticide.

In the Victorian era, "white arsenic" trioxide was mixed with vinegar and chalk and eaten by women to improve the complexion, making their skin paler -indicating that they did not work in the fields. Arsenic was also rubbed onto the faces and arms of women to "improve their complexion". Women are thought to have died because of their cosmetic use. And we think plastic surgery and using hemorrhoid cream seems like an extreme idea.

Besides the it’s great addition to the old beauty industry, arsenic is an effective poison. If you want to now how arsenic kills, please look at the previous posting.

Recently it was shown that arsenic specifically kills leukemia cells. As has attracted worldwide interest because it shows substantial anticancer activity in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). It is cancer of the blood and marrow. There is a constant turnover of cells in these tissues, and somewhere the cells that should end up as a specific granulocyte –a cell that fights infections- stop halfway and accumulate as “nonmature” granulocytes. Like a nursery where the children would never get old and move on to go to school and new children would continue to be accepted.

Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) exerts its therapeutic effect by promoting degradation of an oncogenic protein that drives the growth of APL cells, PML-RAR{alpha} (a fusion protein containing sequences from the PML zinc finger protein and retinoic acid receptor alpha, I will write about these things in a later posting).

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/328/5975/240

Chemical info about Arsenic; http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/as.htm

About promyleocytic leukemia;

http://www.nature.com/leu/journal/v18/n3/full/2403234a.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_promyelocytic_leukemia

About the PML protein;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promyelocytic_leukemia_protein

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=gene&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=5371

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