Iron a Key in Treating Fatal Form of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma

Sézary's Disease is an aggressive and fatal form of cutaneous T cell lymphoma that currently lacks any effective treatments, but researchers at the German Cancer Research Center, along with doctors from Mannheim University Hospitals may have found a novel way to fight Sézary's Disease—the selective release of iron.

Cancer cells have a much faster metabolism than healthy cells, one that requires a lot of energy in the form of micronutrients like iron. However, when levels of iron in cancer cells get too high, the cell produces harmful free radicals. In an effort to protect itself from these free radicals, the cancer cell inactivates free iron by attaching it to what are known as iron storage proteins.

So German researchers decided to try and block the production of an iron storage protein in lymphoma cells. The result was that the level of free, non-bound iron rose in the cancer cells. This iron triggered a greater production of free oxygen radicals in those cells, which damages them in the form of oxidative stress—enough to bring about the death of the cancer cell.

In other words, by blocking the creation of the iron storage protein in a cancer cell, the cell is overcome with an iron level that proves fatal to the cell. Healthy cells aren't harmed by blocking the protein because they already have low iron levels.



Source: Michael K. Kiessling, Claus D. Klemke, Marcin M. Kamiński, Ioanna E. Galani, Peter H. Krammer, and Karsten Gülow: Inhibition of constitutively activated NF-κB induces ROS- and iron dependent cell death in cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Cancer Research 2009; DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3221

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