A protein secreted by healthy cells would explain tumour resistance

At some point, you may ask why chemotherapy is not as effective as it should be.

Chemotherapy | Wired

Chemotherapy | Wired


Why 90% of some cancers – e.g. breast, prostate, lung or colon cancer – develop resistance to chemotherapy above others, instead of stopping its development or making it slower?



Experiments in the laboratory seem to “cure” most of the cancers by administrating high doses of toxic therapies.
However, when these treatments are translated into patients, high doses of drugs not only kill the cancer cells but also normal cells.

Moreover, you might have heard that, “cancer has reversed the treatment.“

The truth is that, even the tumour has responded well initially, after a period of time it becomes resistant to chemotherapy. And this is because chemotherapy treatments are given in cycles or intervals and in small doses in order to allow normal cells – and also the patient – to recover from the toxicity of the anti-cancer therapy. But in that way not all the tumour cells die. Those tumour cells that survive become resistant to further rounds of anti-cancer treatment.


A team of scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle were seeking ways to explain why cancer cells are so resilient inside the human body when they are easy to kill in the lab. As a result of their study, the key factor that triggers drug resistance has been found.

This shocking study states that chemotherapy, long considered one of the most effective cancer-fighting treatments, can make cancer worse. Therefore, this new finding provides valuable information to improve the effectiveness of therapy and save time for patients with cancer in a late stage. Developing cancer resistance to chemotherapy is a lethal consequence that needs to be avoided.

It is thought that chemotherapy inhibits the reproduction of fast-dividing cells such as those found in tumours. However, it can affect other cells: particularly those healthy cells in and around the tumours.


One year ago, researchers in the United States published in the journal Nature Medicine a study about the effects of chemotherapy on tissue from men with prostate cancer. They discovered that healthy cells showed evidence of DNA damage after treatment.

Fibroblast | Withfriendship

Fibroblast | Withfriendship

This damage can be explained by looking at the fibroblast cells, which are the main component of connective tissue (e.g. tendons) and their function is to maintain cells’ integrity and structure. But when fibroblasts are exposed to chemotherapy, their DNA is damaged promoting the production of growth factors that stimulate cancer growth.

Especially, when healthy cells are damaged by chemotherapy, a protein from the WNT family – WNT16B – is overexpressed.

When WNT16B is secreted, it would interact with nearby tumour cells enabling cancer cells to grow, invade surrounding tissue and leading to resist the subsequent therapy.

Peter Nelson, the co-author of the article, says that “the tumour microenvironment can also influence the success or failure of these more precise therapies.”.

In summary, when cancer cells are exposed to different microenvironments, they might respond differently to the treatment. Due to healthy cells surrounding the tumour can also help the tumour to become resistant to the treatment.

These findings were also tested in breast and ovarian cancer tumours with the same results.

A cancer treatment overview should follow these key points:

  • Identify WNT16B role in cancer.
  • WNT16B antibody given with chemotherapy to improve responses.
  • Administrate small doses (less toxic) of treatment.
  • Find a way to block microenvironment response from the cells around the tumour.


Last but not least, not everything is related to “conventional medicine”.
Natural alternatives existed and still exist – for instance, eating some food products: broccoli, ginger, food rich in vitamin D, etc. – but they do not receive any special mention or funding like pharmaceutical drug companies or other organisations because there is no space for benefits. It is important to think about it for a while…

Finally, this video will help you understand better my post.


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