For cancer specialists, this is an exciting time to being doing research. Technology has given them so many more tools to manipulate cancer cells at the genetic level that they are finding the answers to problems that seemed impossible to solve even a few years ago. That's why it seems as if there's a cancer breakthrough every week.
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One such breakthrough came about entirely by accident. Researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra were looking for a diabetes treatment when they made a discovery: They could block off the supply of nutrients that cancer cells need to multiply. Cancer cells require a special protein, called glutamine, to grow. By blocking the pathways that these malignant cells use to get glutamine, scientists were able to "starve" the cells and reduce their growth by 96 percent.
Researchers say this process of starving cells could apply to different types of cancer. Even better, it can lead to a more effective chemotherapy with less side effects that only blocks glutamine production, which normal cells don't use as building materials. Right now, chemo drugs destroy a patient's white blood cells along with the cancerous ones, lowering immunity.
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The next step is to come up with a drug that can block the glutamine so it can be used in humans. As we all wait for that, click through the gallery below to see how celebrities have treated their cancers.
Edie Falco: Breast cancer, 2004 Falco kept her treatment a secret from her Sopranos co-stars. “Surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize," she's said. In her case, it meant starting a family.