Many living cells are programmed to die at a certain point in their lifespan. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is preset by biology and genetics, but some scientists say it can be affected by a treatment called serum starvation
The Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group says apoptosis is a normal process where cells in a multicellular organism die in a regulated fashion. It's different from necrosis, the unplanned and unhealthy death of cells.
MedicineNet.com says serum is defined as the clear part of blood, or other similar fluids. Serum can be used to nourish cells in labs; serum starvation means restricting the supply and studying the effect on cells.
Starvation and Apoptosis
The German "Radiotherapy and Cancer" journal found that in some lines of tumorous cells, a serum-starvation diet sped up apoptosis. Mutant strains of the same cells underwent necrosis.
The Vienna Institute of Cancer Research found that serum starvation could cause apoptosis even when the normal biochemical trigger, caspase-9, wasn't available.
The John Hopkins Oncology Center says cancer cells often override the normal processes of apoptosis. One research paper concluded that restoring normal apoptosis could make cancer treatment more effective.
- Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group: Apoptosis
- MedicineNet: Serum
- "Modulation of Hypoxia-inducible Factor 1a Expression," Hua Zhong, 2000
- Radiotherapy and Oncology: Serum Starvation
- Photo Credit new cells 6 image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com
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