*Caution written content might not be for younger audiences.
I thought I was cool in my younger years wearing the brand “Champion.” Like many fads though (e.g. Von Dutch), it was demoted to the bulk clothing piles in Costco, and then my mom started rocking Champion runners. Funny thing, I went to Sport Experts on the weekend and saw a whole rack dedicated to Champion. A spectrum of coloured shirts and shorts….at exorbitant prices!!! What the heck? Why? These kinds of things are typical with fads, in that they resurface. Take into account hipster glasses even. Fuck, I saw some hipster with a bowl cut on the bus the other day, and she looked pretty damn good, in a Lloyd Christmas kinda way.
Fads resurface, or come full circle, throughout time in fashion, but also in science. Take for instance the mitochondrion, the tubular structured, energy-generating organelle that we need in order to survive (Figure below). Turns out cancer cells need them to survive too, but their mitochondria aren’t like those of normal cells; they’re aberrant to say the least. It was once postulated by Dr. Otto Warburg that abnormal mitochondria were the fuel behind cancer, and targeting them was all we had to do in the “war against cancer.” Well, we tried doing that and it didn’t work, cancer cells just kept on going.
Years of research proceeded, and we made some great progress in cancer diagnoses and research.
Highly-effective chemotherapies emerged, and with the development of efficient DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, we eventually developed targeted therapies (those against a specific protein unique to cancer). We’re even able to chemically regulate the immune system’s role in the fight against cancer and prevent cancer cells from evading immune responses.
Upon following the field of cancer research, something emerged, and now is trending in the literature: understanding mitochondrial behaviour, and effectively targeting its components in cancer. Scientific journals are replete with methods of targeting mitochondrial proteins that misbehave in cancer, and even restricting certain dietary components can dampen pro-cancerous mitochondrial signaling. The scientific community is even on a mission to fully profile mitochondria-derived metabolites in certain cancer types, and even therapy sensitive and resistant cancers from the same cancer type. It is highly likely that a drug will emerge, or some restrictive/additive diet, that prevents tumorigenesis via mitochondria targeting.
So, it seems after several decades of a hiatus, mitochondria have re-emerged as something target-able in cancer, we just needed the technologies to decipher its role. New technologies will of course emerge, which will facilitate our understanding of this devastating disease. However, with new technologies comes a slew of information that we have difficulty distilling into something meaningful. It wouldn’t be a surprise if all these new technologies just lead us back to things we’ve already seen, but maybe we will find more specific ways to target them. I told my mom to never throw her Champion shoes away, they could be worth a lot on eBay.
This was Michael’s last written work because his going on a journey to save the world from Cancer! We wish you the best of luck and thank you for been one of the first scientist that believed and supported us.
Here are some of his latest work:
3MT/MT180 2018 -Mcgill Skillset (watch his presentation!)
Pubfacts -His 6 medical publications, if anyone wants to enhance their horizons.
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