Radiation prompts the healthy cells to commit suicide Radiation therapy is a highly effective treatment for certain cancers but it can also destroy healthy cells in the body, especially bone marrow cells and gastrointestinal cells. Drugs are now being developed to prevent normal cells from being destroyed and yet maintain the antitumor effect of the radiation therapy;
This new way to protect tissues could improve the outcomes of radiation therapy and even save lives in case of a nuclear catastrophe.
Radiation doe not directly kill healthy cells. It prompts the healthy cells to commit suicide through a process called apoptosis. This cell death program is normally turned on in cells with damaged D NA to prevent them from multiplying.
Tumor cells block apoptosis by activating a nuclear factor kB. Many researchers in cancer fields are trying to block this nuclear factor so the cancer cells themselves would commit suicide.
This is exciting research in that it may work in preventing degenerative disorders and ischemic injuries.
Source: Science 4.11.2008