For awhile now I have been meaning to write something a little more relevant than dishing out details of my crzy energiser bunny life that I lead in the suburbs. Of course that would mean ‘work’. As in prep on my part. I mean, I can write that I saw a wolf in the woods from my backyard and you’d accept it, but can’t say the same for stuff that is a litle more scientific or exact now can I? Heh, you’d probably laugh, but you’d also call me a quack and what not. In any case, as I was scrambling occasionally last month to get some posts going everyday, I reached out to dear friends in the blogworld to help me out. Schmetterling, is a self-proclaimed nerd geek. Apart from that binding factor, there’s Madras and I am told even Goodshe (yay) links. Then again, both of us are fun girls (yes, am calling myself a girl and we are all going to stick to that!), and since she’s in the research field in medicine, I just love her even more.
The Multiple Faces of Multi-Drug Resistant(MDR) Pumps
MDR Pumps are a cellular mechanism that exist to kick toxins out. These pumps were first discovered in cancer cell membranes, where they were found in abundance and were later attributed to be the major reason for failure or resistance to chemotherapy. Much probing into life in general led scientists to discover MDR pumps in organisms as little as marine worms. So what are these mysterious MDR pumps?
AVFT v.22 n.1 Caracas ene. 2003
Bacteria are known to be notorious for their multi-drug resistance pumps. So much so, that there was a debate on how dilute hospital sanitizers(biocides) should be, to ideally kill bacteria and not cause them to become resistant. Evolution and Darwin’s adaptation can be quite the pain in all the wrong places, because the wrong side of dilution in hospital biocides could cause the bacteria to develop strains that express more MDR pumps, effectively making them biocide-resistant – and then going on to climb into the throat and tonsils of patients, rendering them resistant to medication.
Ever had a common cold once too often, and your doctor switched antibiotics the second time around you went back to see him? MDR efflux pumps in the bacteria take it upon themselves to find all these antibiotics the body forces inside them and throw them back into your body, effectively conferring you with more phlegm as they wallow arround in your bronchi and tonsils.
All this talk? Researchers are trying to develop more and more drugs for chemotherapy, that are more hydrophobic(water-hating), that penetrate in to the cell through different uptake mechanisms, instead of just tricking the cell membrane. A promising approach has been by modulating the transit times of these drugs at the membrane entry point. By lowering the layover, and carrying out transport faster through the membrane – the transport process itself seems to pass the notice of the MDR pump, thereby showing positive results.
With protein structures being discovered and crystallized, more and more parts of the MDR pump (which is made up of many many proteins) are being characterized- scientists are coming up with more ideas to deter the function of component proteins, thereby rendering the pump itself quite useless. Another approach has been to pick out the mother gene of the MDR pump, and silence its expression, thereby fighting the pump at the genetic level. Blocking of the MDR pump by providing it with “pseudo” substrates is another approach in clinical trials as I write.
The dirt on why cancer is a deadlier diesease (than I thought it was before) is becoming clearer as I write this – it uses the body’s own cellular mechanisms to grow, spread and flourish. The impairment of these very fundamental cellular mechanisms come at the cost of impeding the body’s normal function, as is evident by the ugly side-effects of any form of chemotherapy. Cancer therapy has proven to be a wide spectrum of possibilities with multivarious targets, ifs and buts included – and even as scientists continue to scour the bottom of the ocean for slugs and sea organisms to study how nature effectively uses MDR protein pumps, who will win this battle of Nature Vs. Nature?