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Can We Turn On The Headlights?


8-16-08

Today I had some time to relax with Google. Ha!

Discovered some things about Vitamin K2 (not Vitamin K1), probiotics, and Natto (see picture) (you thought normal health food tasted bad :). But before I say anything more about that, I want to talk about something I found a week or so ago.

Recently as I have been grouping various supplements by their effects on various apoptotic pathways I noticed that Curcumin, Genestein, Quercetin and others shared an ability to suppress expression of matrix metalloproteinases.

I'm not sure that is relevant regarding fighting AML, but it is important for solid tumor cancers. I occasionally put a capsule of Ho Shou Wu in my tea every day, which contains quercetin, so it appears I'm guarding against breast cancer :)

But seriously, before I stopped looking at matrix metaloproteinase supressors in relation to AML I did a few more searches, and discovered some interesting information:

2002 Jun: Marrow matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of MMP in acute leukaemia: potential role of MMP-9 as a surrogate marker to monitor leukaemic status in patients with acute myelogenous leukaemia.

2007 Sep: Prognostic relevance of circulating matrix metalloproteinase-2 in acute myeloid leukaemia patients.

Let me give you an analogy to demonstrate how important I think diagnostics are for AML treatment:
I'm teaching Ben how to drive a car right now (laughter from those who remember my own younger years). Make believe for a second, that you are speeding down the highway in the dark, and you only get to flick on your headlights one brief second per minute. The rest of the time you are clutching the steering wheel sweating bullets in the dark. That's how I feel with this cancer business. We set the course, drive for 60 days, and then come up for air only to discover we are so far in the ditch that we can barely get out. Then we make course corrections, and drive for another 60 days hoping we don't crash and burn.

And that's just treatment. The entire time you are in remission it's like you have the lights off unaware of veering out onto ever thinner ice. When the lights come on, you may not be able to get back in time before falling through. It would sure be nice to have some kind of weekly test to compare to a baseline, to know months in advance whether or not you were heading towards relapse.

What a boon that would be for research. So much of the latest research is pointing to less toxic cancer therapy based on small molecules, biological substances, or immunotherapy. So if you knew months in advance that you were headed towards relapse, you could employ other non-toxic methods (trial and error) and find out what worked by measuring weekly progress.

Proper diagnostics could help find a cure faster (waste less lives), because there would be more time to measure success/failure of various treatments (milder adjustments) rather than waiting until full-blown relapse where you only get several large attempts, creating big ruts with orthodox treatments trying to get out of the ditch again.

So since diagnostics are so critically important, I wonder why since that first study was out in 2002, that MMP-2 and MMP-9 serum tests aren't being done pre-treatment, and weekly or monthly post-treatment for all AML patients? Can you imagine the wealth of information that data would provide?

Well, at this point this probably doesn't help Jaymun because we already discovered he has cancer in his marrow again. But, you know, it isn't in his peripheral blood yet. Consequently the only way to test his "status" is to do a painful marrow aspirate (sedation, etc.). So rather than do that procedure every week, it would sure seem easier to simply do a MMP-9 or MMP-2 serum test on his circulating blood so we could tell if things like green tea are heading him in the right direction, or if we need to switch to Bug Juice :)

(R&D Systems sells the kits for $460)
Not sure what other (prohibitvely?) expensive equipment a lab would need to go with that, though.

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