Local doctor weighs in on new cancer research - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Local doctor weighs in on new cancer research

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Two big cancer research breakthroughs have been topping headlines recently.
 
A local oncologist at Memorial Health explains what these developments really mean for those battling cancer.
 
He also talked about another new advancement he says isn't creating as much buzz in the media, but should be.
 
Could elephants hold important clues to fighting cancer in humans?

New research shows they have tumor suppressor genes that essentially make them cancer fighting superstars.

"The amount of this particular tumor suppressor gene is about 40 times more in the elephant than it is in the human," said Dr. Guy Petruzzelli, VP Oncology Programs, Memorial Health.

Here’s how it works.

"Tumor suppressor genes are genes that will maintain the DNA or try to fix the DNA if the DNA is broken or if the DNA is broken and the cell is no longer able to repair itself what tumor suppressor genes will do is actually cause the cell to die," said Dr. Petruzzelli.

So, what does this mean for humans?

"How higher levels of tumor suppression genes relate to prevention is not really well known," he said.

Another big development lately, researchers are now able to grow brain tissue from all different areas of the brain.

"We're able to use almost like kind of cancer avatars and be able to take cancer from a particular patient and grow that particular cancer in a dish or even transplant that particular cancer into a mouse and let that cancer grow."

Dr. Petruzzelli says they can then try different drugs to see what works best before trying it on the patient.

"It's a much safer and in many ways a more cost effective way to develop cancer therapies."

While these two studies are very fascinating, Dr. Petruzzelli says let's not forget immunotherapy, a form of treatment that uses your own immune system to fight cancer.

"That's a huge set of breakthroughs that we are now applying to many, many, many different types of tumor systems."
 
Dr. Petruzzelli says if you're battling cancer, some of the most important research though, comes from you.

He says research your doctors.  Ask them how often they care for someone with your condition.  If you need an operation, ask them how often they perform it and what their results are.

For more information on these new studies or the Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health, click on the links below:

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