Blood cancer happens when something goes wrong with the development of your blood cells. This stops them working properly and they may grow out of control.
This can stop your blood doing the things it normally does to keep you healthy, like fighting off infections or helping repair your body.
Types of blood cancer
The main types of blood cancer are:
There are also other blood cancers and related conditions that don’t fit within these groups such as myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms.
Within these broad groups are many different blood cancers. Each specific type affects a particular type of blood cell and will have different symptoms, treatments and outlook (prognosis).
Acute and chronic blood cancers
You might see blood cancers described as either:
acute: this means an aggressive or fast-growing cancer that spreads quickly, or
chronic: this means a slower-growing or ‘indolent’ (lazy) cancer that takes longer to spread.
How does blood cancer start?
Cells are the tiny building blocks that our bodies are made of. Every second of every day your body is refreshing your cells by making new ones and destroying old ones.
DNA is a substance within your cells. It’s a kind of code that controls how cells develop, behave, and die. DNA is made up of small sections known as genes and packed into chromosomes in your cells.
If the DNA changes (mutates) in the stem cells that make your blood cells in your bone marrow, your blood cells might start to develop wrongly (abnormally), or fail to die when they should. These are the ‘cancerous’ or cancer cells.
The type of blood cancer you have generally depends on the type of blood cell that’s affected.
Leukaemia happens when your leukocytes (white blood cells) become cancerous.
Lymphoma happens when your lymphocytes (a certain type of white blood cell) become cancerous.
Myeloma happens when your plasma cells (a type of B lymphocyte) become cancerous.
What causes blood cancer?
All blood cancers are caused by faults in our DNA (mutations). In practically all cases these changes to our DNA happen for reasons we can’t explain and are linked to things we can’t control.
While in most cases we don’t know exactly what causes the changes to DNA that can lead to blood cancer, research has shown that there are a number of things that can affect how likely you are to develop certain types of blood cancer.
These ‘risk factors’ include:
radiation or chemical exposure, and
some health conditions and treatments.
The risk factors vary between the different types of blood cancer. For example, we know that myeloma only affects adults and is much more common in men and people from an African-Caribbean background, whereas Hodgkin lymphoma usually develops in people aged 15-25 or over 50, and people who already have problems with their immune system.
Everyone has slightly different numbers of each type of blood cell. If you’re healthy, the amount you have normally stays in the same range.
A ‘blood count’ is the term used to describe how many blood cells are in a sample of your blood.
What’s a normal blood count?
What’s considered a ‘normal’ blood range (blood count) can vary between different doctors, healthcare teams and hospitals, but as a general rule a healthy person is expected to have blood counts in the following ranges:
Type of blood cell
Normal range for women
Normal range for men
Red blood cells
3.8 to 5 x 1012/l
4.5 to 6.5 x 1012/l
115g/l to 165 g/l
130g/l to 180 g/l
White blood cells
4 to 11 x 109/l
4 to 11 x 109/l
2 to 7.5 x 109/l
2 to 7.5 x 109/l
1.3 to 4 x 109/l
1.3 to 4 x 109/l
150 to 440 x 109/l
150 to 440 x 109/l
*Doctors are usually more interested in the concentration of your haemoglobin than the number of cells in your blood, so haemoglobin is measured slightly differently.
Politicians talk a lot about farming but seldom about “pharming,” even though the latter can also have a big impact on Americans’ pocketbooks—and their health. The punny name refers to genetically modifying plants such as corn, rice, tobacco and alfalfa to produce high concentrations of pharmaceutical ingredients. Many common medicines already come from plants, including morphine, the fiber supplement Metamucil and the cancer drug Taxol. Yet heavy-handed federal regulations have frozen out pharming efforts, making it far too difficult for researchers to use this approach to create new medications.
An article this month in the journal Nature highlights pharming’s enormous promise. The authors estimate that proteins could be obtained from genetically engineered tobacco plants at 1/1,000th the cost of current methods. Compared with proteins derived from mammalian cells or chemical systems, proteins from genetically engineered plants are also easy to scale up and synthesize with other proteins, and they remain stable at room temperature for longer periods.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved for marketing two human drugs obtained from genetically engineered animals—an anticoagulant secreted into goat’s milk and an enzyme to treat a rare genetic disease, obtained from the eggs of genetically engineered chickens—but none from genetically engineered plants. The primary reason is excessive regulation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA.
In 2003 the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service set out highly detailed guidelines for how and where pharmaceutical companies could plant their crops and store their equipment. This ended most entrepreneurial interest in pharming. Without a clear and reasonable regulatory framework, it isn’t surprising that pharmaceutical companies, most of which have little experience with plants, are reluctant to make large upfront investments.
In 2010 the biotech company Ventria Bioscience nonetheless approached the FDA for recognition that two human proteins, lysozyme and lactoferrin, synthesized in genetically engineered rice, are “generally recognized as safe”—a regulatory term of art. They were intended to be added to oral rehydration solution to treat diarrheal diseases. Studies had shown that the proteins shortened the duration of illness and reduced the probability of future illnesses. Ventria received no response from the FDA and the product was never marketed for use.
Or consider HIV. A combination drug called Truvada that interferes with an enzyme critical to the replication of the virus is about 90% effective at suppressing it, but it costs $2,000 a month. This is costly for U.S. patients but puts the drug out of reach for patients in developing countries.
Researchers are looking for cheaper alternatives. Some are exploring topically applied drugs called microbicides to block virus entry into cells and thus transmission between people. Genetically engineered plants, grown at a large scale, could synthesize several anti-HIV microbicides at once. A medicine that contains several different antivirals reduces the likelihood of a resistant strain of HIV emerging during treatment. It’s possible a crude plant extract could be used as the drug. (Think of it as similar to the use of crude extracts of the aloe plant for various ailments.) This would cut costs by reducing the need for complicated production processes.
During the 2014 Ebola crisis, ZMapp—a cocktail of three antibodies produced in genetically engineered tobacco plants—was tested in a clinical trial. The drug “appeared to be beneficial” for Ebola patients, although it “did not meet the prespecified clinical threshold for efficacy,” investigators wrote. Similarly, Middle East respiratory syndrome is an emerging virus, first reported in 2012, with a high fatality rate. Plant viruses (which aren’t infectious to humans) have been engineered to carry an antiviral protein that could be administered to patients via an inhaler to block MERS.
Plant-made vaccines have also been tested to prevent seasonal flu. The ability of influenza to infect multiple animal species (for example, humans, birds and pigs), as well as to change its surface proteins rapidly, makes developing effective vaccines a constant challenge. Scalability constraints and long production times have limited the ability of public health officials to satisfy global demand. Fortunately, flu vaccines produced in genetically engineered plants as “virus-like particles,” as well by presenting antigens on the surface of plant viruses, have shown safety and efficacy in clinical trials. They have not yet been approved for marketing.
Plant-made vaccines are also under development to address diseases that can spread from animals to humans, including the West Nile, chikungunya and Zika viruses. In many cases, a highly specific protein can neutralize the pathogen and can be used both as a diagnostic tool and for prevention. Conventional protein expression systems are more costly and harder to scale than proteins engineered in plants.
Fortunately, commercial-scale manufacturing facilities for pharmed substances have been built in the past decade in Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Kansas. Three are funded by the Defense Department and poised to process thousands of pounds of plant biomass into more purified forms of biologics, including vaccines and antibodies. The fourth belongs to Ventria Bioscience and is the country’s largest manufacturing facility for plant-made pharmaceuticals.
The technology and infrastructure exist for plant-based vaccines and therapies to transform medicine. What’s missing is a regulatory framework that will attract drug companies and entrepreneurs. It’s time for the FDA and USDA to overhaul their policies to reflect properly the risks and benefits of this crucial technology.
Ms. Hefferon, a biologist and author, is an instructor at Cornell and a research scientist at the University of Toronto. Dr. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He was founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology.
Medicinal Chemist, Professor Patrick Gunning targets on his latest research to design a molecule that targets a cancer-promoting protein called STAT3. For the last three years from 2016, Gunning has developed a powerful family of molecules that disable the STAT3 protein and stops the spread of numerous cancers while leaving the healthy cells untouched. STAT3 is coined as a master regulator of the cancer cell. How does drugs works on our body. As organic chemist thinks that our body is made of connection.
Why does the cancer cell like to grow, expand and evade?
This is controlled by beautiful caskets of protein. Protein interactions that leads to genes being produced that tell the cell what to do. And in cancer these genes are telling it to survive and to grow. STAT3 expresses genes that leads to division, growth and preventing cell death.
How can we target STAT3 if it’s already performing a normal role?
For normal cells STAT3 is switched on for a very short period of time and quickly shut down. Cancer cells are permanently switched on. And because it’s permanently switched on you have this all expression genes that leads to the cancer cells. Medicinal chemistry targets STAT3. Medicinal chemistry perspective is the design and senses of small, typically organic molecules that binds to specific protein with the exquisite selectivity and potency. And the result of the interaction is the biological response and in cancer that has to be cell death. We won’t let the interaction lead to cell death. In STAT3 they found 3 main binding site, in an active side of protein. Professor Gunning wanted to make a molecule that could access all of those sites. They used computational modelling to identify molecules that could bind.
IC50 is the concentration of a drug required to kills 50% of cancer cells. They bind the molecule to the proteins to see if it’ll bind and next one they bind it with cancer cells. They treat the cancer cell with the molecule to see if the hypotheses is correct by targeting the protein the cell is done. They want to see a molecule that is good to normal cell and cancer cell.
BP1102 which is .8 micromolar is the starting point. It was found out that it didn’t kill those cell and found out on breast cancer cells that it dramatically affected the great number of cells kills them.
It takes about 40 years for cancer to start growing in your body. It takes billions of its cell to be detectable. If we are over 80 years of age, we are many times more prone to getting cancer. How can we prevent it from growing? We start by living with less stress, getting adequate night-time sleep, eating more veggies and whole foods than red meat and sugar. We walk on the beach, in the sun and drinking clean water and breathing clean air. Know that chemicals in most processed foods and packaged in toxic containers (such as metals like aluminum and other nonmetals) are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing substances.
In today’s genetic medicine, scientist have used virus to find and kill some of the cancer cells but not all. There are many who lived thru 100 years and was able to kill any cancer causing pathogens, infections, chemicals, virus, bacteria, parasites, molds and fungus by avoiding them, eating whole foods (yams, tofu, vinegar, eggs, greens, to name a few).