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Thus tiny cell is good news for cancer survivors

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A scientist at the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) in Mumbai — an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — says a new type of stem cell identified by her team can help restore fertility in men and women who have undergone treatment for cancer.

Cancer treatment, or “oncotherapy”, that involves use of radiation and chemicals, renders patients infertile as an unwanted side effect and, while cured of cancer, they cannot beget children.

Though women are born with a lifetime reserve of “oocytes” ( immature eggs), these are wiped out by oncotherapy. In males, the testes responsible for the production of sperms, stop making them following cancer treatment.

Currently accepted approaches for fertility preservation require male patients to deposit their sperm in “cryo-banks” before beginning cancer treatment for later use. Similarly women, wanting to have children, must have their eggs or embryos “cryopreserved” for use after oncotherapy.
Image result for Thus tiny cell is good news for cancer survivors
“Such approaches are invasive, expensive, technically challenging and depend on assisted reproductive technologies,” reports NIRRH cell biologist Deepa Bhartiya in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the flagship journal of ICMR.

According to the report, there is now a way out. Bhartiya says research by her team over the years led to identification of a novel population of “Very Small Embryonic-Like stem cells (VSELs)”, in testis (in males) and ovaries (in females).

Being “quiescent” by nature, these primitive stem cells (VSELs) survive cancer therapy and therefore can offer young cancer survivors options to have children without having to bank their sperms or embryos prior to oncotherapy, says the report.

“The VSELs have remained elusive over decades due to their small size and presence in very few numbers,” says Bhartiya.

The discovery of these unique VSELs (in testes and ovaries) that do not succumb to oncotherapy “opens up an alternative strategy to regenerate non-functional gonads and ovaries in cancer survivors”, says Bhartiya.

While VSELs survive cancer treatment, their original “habitat” (or niche) however gets destroyed by oncotherapy. To make the VSELs functional, their “niche” should be re-created by transplanting “mesenchymal cells” — another type of stem cells taken from the bone marrow — into the testes, says the report.

Image result for Thus tiny cell is good news for cancer survivors

A simple and direct transplantation of “mesenchymal cells in the non-functional gonads may suffice to regenerate them,” says Bhartiya. “Similarly, transplantation of “ovarian surface epithelial cells” may allow the VSELs to regenerate nonfunctional ovaries.”

“This approach to fertility restoration is safe,” says Bhartiya pointing out to earlier studies carried out in her laboratory in mice which had shown that this method restored the role of non-functional ovaries and resulted in the birth of fertile offsprings.

“Our group also successfully restored spermatogenesis (sperm production) in non-functional mouse testis by transplanting niche (mesenchymal) cells, into the testis,” Bhartiya said.

In the light of these findings, she says the field of oncofertility may undergo a sea-change and existing strategies of cryopreservation of gametes and gonadal tissue for fertility preservation in cancer patients will have to be revised. “Pilot clinical studies (in humans) need to be undertaken.”

“VSELs may be an alternative cell source for induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) clls,” Balu Manohar, managing director of Stempeutics Research, a Bengaluru-based stem cell company told this correspondent. “But it is still far away from the clinic as isolation and large scale expansion of these cells has to be standardised.”

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Love to drink your tea piping hot? Beware, it could…

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Coffee, Drinking Coffee, Coffee drinking habit, Death, Kidney disease, Health news, Lifestyle news

Love to drink your tea piping hot? Beware, it could raise the risk of esophageal cancer, finds a study.

The study showed that risk of esophageal cancer more than doubled among those who regularly drank tea at 75 degrees Celsius

However, waiting for at least four minutes before drinking a cup of freshly boiled tea can reduce the risk of the cancer arising from the oesophagus — the food pipe that runs between the throat and the stomach.

Image result for girl DRINKING hot tea

“Many people enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. However, according to our report, drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and it is therefore advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking,” said lead author Farhad Islami of the American Cancer Society.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, involved 50,045 individuals aged 40 to 75 years.

Drinking 700 ml per day of tea or more at a higher temperature (60 degrees Celsius or higher) was associated with a 90 per cent higher risk of esophageal cancer, the researchers said.

The results could also be extended to coffee, hot chocolate or other hot beverages.

Image result for Piping hot tea raises esophageal cancer risk: Study

Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cancer in India and eighth most globally. It affects more men than women.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned of the cancer risk associated with drinks above 65 degrees Celsius.

Scalding water irritates the lining of the mouth and throat which can fuel tumours, scientists believe.

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