Cancer Blood Dialysis ?
When Cecily was first diagnosed, the doctors said that there was no purpose in cutting out the tumor in the lung --- that it would serve no purpose. "The horse is already out of the barn," they would reply. This logic never made sense to me --- even if two horses had gotten out, wouldn't it be safer to keep the other 50 away from the brain?
I then finally came upon a scientific paper that explained why the primary tumor cannot be cut out in the case of metastasized lung cancer --- most of the doctors did indeed know that the official protocol prevented surgically removing the tumor, but they were completely uninformed about the reason.
Cancer cells actually communicate in order to co-ordinate their spread (metastasis) and attack. They do so by releasing tiny molecules into the blood (called proteins) that act as a coded language (or "instruction"). When the main tumor comes under attack surgically, it will frequently send out a protein instructing the cancer cells in other organs to begin growing their own tumors immediately. (view research announcements).
And in late 2003 it was learned from independent scientific studies that cancer cells actually communicate with the local blood vessels, informing them days in advance that they are planning to split into daughter cells (metastasis). With this information, the local blood vessel begins to grow a new vessel to be ready to feed the daughter cell. The blood vessel itself then sends a protein signal back to the cancer cell instructing the cell on exactly where to position the daughter cell so that the daughter cell will line up with the new vessel !
Cancer cells are not "dumb", (as Cecily's first Oncologist had advised her). Most Oncologists know nothing about research beyond summaries in various magazines that they may skim through --- in meeting with potential Oncologists for Cecily at the most major-rated hospitals, even those doctors involved in research got most things about the newest research wrong, and when gently corrected they became very agitated. This included several of the "top-ranked" Lung Oncologists in Los Angeles.
Recent research shows that there is a very precise and sophisticated language of communication in order for Cancer to spread and attack. Cancer cells are indeed advanced organisms. And that is good news. It means that cancer can be intelligently fought on its own terms --- through both biochemical, and maybe mechanical, means. The current thinking is to develop drugs that will mess up this protein communication within the blood. But that will take time.
However there is a "mechanical" means that might prove to be an interim help. It sounds like it is from out of the 19th century ... well, so is anesthesia.
I would propose the creation of a "cancer" blood dialysis machine ... at the very least it would be a make-do answer until better treatment comes along. It would seem that if the "protein messengers" that are transmitted by cancer cells via both the circulating blood system as well as the local blood vessels could be mechanically filtered out of the blood, then the cancer cells would be unable to speak, hopefully less able to do their work. In fact, since this communication seems essential in order for cancer cells to spread (metastasize), then perhaps this "cancer dialysis" would actually severely limit the spread of cancer itself. (This is an idea that if developed and successful, would cost the drug companies billions. Development is unlikely to be funded by government grants. Companies such as The Baxter Company, manufacturer of Dialysis and Blood Separator equipment, would be best in a position to assist in developing such equipment if cancer research dollars were available).
Amazingly, most of the technology to do the above already exists.
Three things should be accomplished, (even if the third comes out later than the first two):
1) REMOVAL OF MESSENGER PROTEINS SYSTEMICALLY: The blood that circulates through the entire body would need to be purified of such messenger proteins, on the assumption that this systemic blood supply allows cancers in different parts of the body to communicate.
2) REMOVAL OF MESSENGER PROTEINS LOCALLY: The local blood vessels that take blood from the circulatory system and feed specific organs would need to be purified, to prevent protein messages that instruct the local blood vessels to create new, microscopic vessels to feed new cancer cells. This should hamper and slow down metastasis ... perhaps dramatically.
3) REMOVAL OF CANCER CELLS SYSTEMICALLY: Ideally, the circulatory blood supply would also be filtered of the cancer cells themselves, since metastasis to the brain is a danger with some cancers such as lung cancer. It should be assumed until demonstrated otherwise that even if the brain has already been exposed to cancer cells, a continuing deluge can only increase the odds of brain cancer developing and should therefore should be stopped.
1. REMOVAL OF "MESSENGER PROTEINS" SYSTEMICALLY
The Portable Blood Dialysis Machine
Every night, tens of thousands of patients with kidney problems sleep hooked up to a portable machine that removes toxins from their circulating blood supply as they sleep. Being hooked up to this machine is actually easier than being given a flu shot.
If such a machine didn't already exist, (and if I were proposing the idea of a human blood filtration machine for the first time), I have no doubt that I would be drowned out by choruses of medical professionals calling it crazy, saying that it isn't possibly feasible. "It could ... could cause blood clots." "There could ... could be bacteria that get into the blood." "The machine could ... could break down and kill you."
Fortunately the machines have existed for decades, and keep millions of people worldwide alive. It is interesting, though, how necessary it is for professionals to immediately justify that new suggestions simply are not feasible. Otherwise --- it already would have been done.
A Kidney dialysis machine does not filter out molecules as small as the protein messengers sent out by cancer cells, however.
But as fate would have it, an attachment for dialysis machines that will do the job has already been invented!
The Molecular Filter
Molecular blood filters have already been invented for attachment to standard dialysis machines --- these molecular filters are also called "Artificial Liver Filters," and are used to help patients with liver problems. There are a few different brands on the market:
The MARS unit:
AN EXAMPLE OF MOLECULAR BLOOD FILTRATION
MARS® Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System:
Compatible with standard Dialysis Equipment
Scheme of MARS System with extracorporeal blood circuit,
albumin circuit and additional dialysate
Another such "Artificial Liver" filter is named PROMETHIUS:
ANOTHER FORM OF FILTER: "MECHANICAL"
Another filter device currently under testing is the Aethlon Hemopurifier, which physically forces blood through microscopic tubes to remove impurities in the blood. Although designed primarily for removal of viruses, in preliminary testing the Hemopurifier has been found to remove from the bloodstream several of the proteins excreted by cancer cells, including a protein that hijacks the body's natural cancer immune defenses, as well as a protein that instructs cancer tumors to begin to grow in other organs.
see articles on Hemopurifier tests with cancer-infected blood
PUT THE DIALYSIS MACHINE and the FILTERS TOGETHER:
... and it is possible that the first stated goal, of purifying the systemic blood supply of cancer messenger proteins, might already exist --- even though it may require modification of the filters to remove proteins of very specific sizes secreted by cancer cells.
There is only one way to know --- try it. No drug company will ever spend the millions of dollars necessary to do a scientific trial --- if successful, this technique would likely lower their stock value!
Now, it may be that there are numerous further refinements that need to be made to the existing equipment to work correctly for this purpose. I am only laying down the initial proposal. For example, the molecular filters may need to be modified in some way to make certain that they are perfectly filtering out molecules of the exact size as the specific proteins sent out by cancer cells (as of early 2004, almost 50 different cancer protein "instruction" molecules were known to exist; they may come in many sizes and shapes).
It also may be necessary to add back to the blood some "good" molecules that may be filtered out, such as the body's natural cancer fighters Endostatin and Angiostatin. Fortunately these reagents are both available synthetically, and the Molecular Filter can be programmed to automatically add them back into the blood after filtration has taken place.
And if Molecular Filtration does prove to help --- at any level --- mass production of "Cancer Dialysis Machines" would push down the price of the units, as well as their size.
Many different companies make portable blood dialysis machines that can be used in the home. Second hand machines from Hospitals that work perfectly can be purchased for $3,000 - $5,000 (US$) through medical equipment brokers (check your web search engine). Usually a machine is rented, with full support.
INFO on the possible Filters to consider (even if they require modification for use on Cancer secreted Proteins):
The MARS artificial liver filter (a Molecular Filter to remove small and mid sized proteins from blood) is found at:
Information on the PROMETHIUS Artificial Liver Filter is at:
(At the time of this writing, the MARS and PROMETHIUS units may not yet be approved by the FDA in the US, and may still be undergoing final trials.)
***NOTE: MARS was given FDA approval in US in 2005.
Info on the Hemopurifier can be found at:
2. REMOVAL OF "CANCER CELLS" SYSTEMICALLY
A "Cancer Blood Dialysis Machine" should also include a module to remove and/or kill cancer cells in the blood. It doesn't matter that "the horse is already out of the barn." With no cancer cells circulating in the blood supply, one stands a better chance of not developing secondary cancer tumors, such as cancer in the brain at the very least.
Today there exists a portable machine to do just this. Using a centrifuge (a device that spins the blood at very high speed), the machine can separate cancer cells from the blood as the patient sits there having dialysis. This is called a "Blood Separator Machine." Large Blood Separator machines are used by the Red Cross to extract blood plasma, and specialized machines are used to remove Leukemia cells from the blood of patients who are harvesting blood for re-transfusion at a later date.
At least one such portable machine is manufactured by Fresenius:
Blood Cell Separator for Removal of Cancer Cells from the Systemic Blood
The Fresenius cell separator :
How it works:
FROM THE MANUFACTURER: A cell
separator is primarily used to collect blood platelets or thrombocytes.
While red blood cells mainly transport oxygen and other blood cells ward off
pathogens, thrombocytes play an important role in blood clotting. Patients
with too few thrombocytes suffer from an inability of the blood to coagulate
properly. Injuries can lead to potentially dangerous bleeding. One example
of the cause of thrombocyte deficiency is cancer therapy. Doctors infuse
patients with healthy donor thrombocytes following treatment.
Thrombocytes are obtained most effectively with a blood cell separator. The machine, which works like a centrifuge, gently separates thrombocytes from the other blood components.
A cell separator can separate thrombocytes from other blood cells; it can also remove cancer cells directly from the blood. Today it is not used often for most cancer treatment, but combined with removal of cancer protein messengers it would be logical to also remove cancer cells from the blood supply. (Today the major use for this machine is following chemo, to relieve the strain on the kidneys by considerably lowering the number of destroyed cancer cells that must be removed from the blood.)
collects a patient’s cells
Although rarely used in this way today, another application of the blood cell separator is quickly gaining in importance. Doctors can use the device to remove stem cells from the blood of a cancer patient. Through pre-treatment bone marrow stem cells start to reproduce and partially move into the blood stream. These stem cells can be collected almost like platelets. This way surgery to obtain stem cells directly from bone marrow can be avoided. The treatment subsequently used to combat cancer cells damage the stem cells from which all other blood cells are made. If the patient receives healthy stem cells after chemotherapy, healthy blood cells can develop quicker, for example the platelets that are important for hemostasis and coagulation.
For more information on the portable blood cell separator, please visit the homepage of Fresenius Kabi
Other possible ways of removing cancer cells from the blood:
Perhaps the published claim that cancer cells die at lower temperatures than healthy cells could be utilized to send the blood through a heating unit to kill the cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells unaffected. The dead cancer cells could then be filtered out before the blood is re-infused.
Or perhaps the emerging science of injecting photo-sensitizers in the blood to allow cancer cells to be vulnerable to laser light, might be the easiest option of all. If a chamber in the machine filled with laser beams could vaporize the cancer cells without harming healthy cells, it might make for less dead tissue in need of filtration.
While removing cancer cells from the blood would seem to be less urgent in late stage cancer than ridding the blood supply (systemic AND local) of cancer protein messengers, certainly removal of cancer cells altogether should also be addressed.
Also, new machines now being designed to harvest stem cells may also be able to remove cancer cells from the blood as well.
ANOTHER EVEN SIMPLER FILTRATION METHOD FOR THE CANCER-SECRETED PROTEINS?
Finally, it might make sense for the very first step in the CANCER BLOOD DIALYSIS process to involve the described separation of Blood Cells and Cancer Cells from the PLASMA.
First the Cancer cells would be discarded, then before recombining the blood cells with the PLASMA, perhaps only the PLASMA ALONE would be sent to have the Cancer Excreted Proteins removed. Because the "living" blood cells would not be present, this could open the door to many more methods of filtration, (by allowing methods that would otherwise damage the blood cells --- such as anything involving great heat).
Or perhaps a form of artificial plasma will be perfected, which could allow the protein-contaminated plasma to be discarded altogether. The following excerpt is from http://www.scienceclarified.com/Bi-Ca/Blood.html :
"PLASMA: Plasma is made up of 92 percent water, 7 percent proteins, salts, and other substances it transports. Fibrinogen is an important protein involved in blood clotting. Albumins and globulins are proteins that aid in the regulation of fluid in and out of the blood vessels. Proteins called gamma globulins act as antibodies and help protect the body against foreign substances, called antigens.The salts present in plasma include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate. They are involved in many important body functions such as muscle contraction, the transmission of nerve impulses, and regulation of the body's acid-base balance. The remaining substances in plasma include nutrients, hormones, dissolved gases, and waste products that are being transported to and from body cells. These materials enter and leave the plasma as blood circulates through the body."
In the end, this is just a technical issue to resolve. Removal of the proteins from PLASMA is surely do-able. If this evolves as the method of removing the Cancer-Secreted Proteins, then it would take the place of the Dialysis process proposed in step #1 above, making the Cell Separator Machine the major basis of the Cancer Blood Dialysis machine by removing BOTH the Cancer Cells, as well as the Cancer-Secreted Proteins.
It is not a question of "if?" This is all about having the funds to develop and engineer what is required.
3. REMOVAL OF "MESSENGER PROTEINS" LOCALLY
A catheter is any device that can be installed to transport liquids. For the purpose of attempting to remove (or minimize) cancer protein messengers from the local blood vessels, I am referring to a small plastic tube with a needle at one end that would enter an organ at the point where the local blood vessels provide blood to the organ, and the other end would be implanted under the skin in the chest to a tiny metal device that allows the catheter to be filled with fluids via a needle (called a VAP). The catheter would be implanted by a very simple, relatively non-invasive thoracic procedure.
Again, if I were proposing the idea of catheters for the first time, the medical professionals would find the suggestion crazy. "It could ... could lead to infection." "It will never work" "It could be dangerous."
Fortunately --- once again --- this already exists!
In fact, in the case of cancers that have not spread beyond the initial organ (stage 3 or less), this exact technique is sometimes used today to send anti-cancer drugs directly into the organ itself! Cleansing the blood would be the new twist now being added.
In the case of trying to remove at least some of the cancer protein messengers from the local blood vessels, various techniques will need to be created. Here are some ideas that can be easily and readily be tested in the lab:
a) The Feasibility of Extracting some of the protein-contaminated Blood via the catheter
Can a certain amount of the existing blood within the vessels of the organ be suctioned out and discarded? Would the injection of blood thinning medication beforehand, or vessel dilating medication, (or both) assist? How long can the blood be absent and not become problematic for the healthy cells?
b) Injection of Clean Blood into the vessels
In any event, clean blood would be added to the vessels feeding the organ via catheter. Perhaps this blood can be obtained from the patient's own newly cleaned blood supply from within the "cancer dialysis machine" discussed above. Perhaps it might be possible for the "Dialysis Machine" to automatically feed the catheters when necessary. To feed fresh blood into some specific organs would presumably not require a huge volume of blood.
It might also be helpful to mix in a cancer-killing agent with this fresh blood.
There is no question that the idea of cleaning the local blood vessels that feed the infected organs is the most challenging part of developing this procedure. But I also believe that it is strictly a matter of basic Research and Development --- if the money were there, it could probably happen almost overnight. There is no rocket science involved. Just design based on already established science and technology, with necessary lab testing.
And in the meantime, using catheters to inject clean blood could be done manually --- just as using catheters to inject chemo into some specific organs is today done manually. In the case of lung cancer, probably half a dozen catheters would be needed to go to specific organs. So what? If today it is done routinely to a single organ, then why not half a dozen? And if this technique ultimately cuts the cost of cancer care for the insurance companies, they they should embrace the concept. They should invest in its development (if they don't find any horse's heads left in their beds from Drug Company executives and the FDA).
The CANCER DIALYSIS MACHINE need not be a pipedream. The fundamental technology is already here, and is used by millions worldwide every day. With the money and the will (ie-PRESSURE FROM PATIENTS, AND MONEY!), this technology could probably be deployed very rapidly if a genuine "Manhattan Project" on cancer were declared ... not just political rhetoric.
What would it take for such a project to be undertaken? Probably a multi-millionaire diagnosed with incurable cancer who wants to live and knows that you can't take your money with you.
Remember, this is basic mechanics, not a high tech project that needs years and years of new science to be developed. It is probably less of a challenge to perfect such technology today than it was to create the first soda pop vending machine. Or to send a lunar buggy to drive men around on the moon.
site menu or continue to read the research below
Information below raises the possibility of mechanical Molecular Blood Dialysis as a potential tool; as of now, there is no known investigational work being done in this area --- yet this is probably the easiest of all methods to test out as a possible means to stop or slow (at least temporarily) cancer metastasis, and with an existing track record of minimal risk ---- millions of of people worldwide already undergo frequent blood dialysis ... many each night at home while asleep.
Currently, there is talk of trying to develop drugs to accomplish filtering the protein messengers. This could take decades, if ever successful.
If these ideas help bear fruit toward successful approaches, I hope that the technique will bear Cecily's name. Cecily was the kindest soul to ever live, and she felt genuine pain when she would observe circumstances in the world that made no sense to her. The slowness to act on possibilities that might save lives because of the danger of cutting into profits of some companies would have been incomprehensible to Cecily. In her own world view, she imagined that she lived in a kind, just, and more sensible place. There is not a person who knew and loved Cecily who would not have gladly exchanged their own life to save hers.
-- Researchers said on Friday they were starting to find clues left by cancer
when it begins to spread, and hoped to develop them into tests that may save the
lives of future patients.
"People don't become ill
because they got cancer. People become ill because they got cancer and we
couldn’t do something about it," Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, head of the
National Cancer Institute, told a news conference.
Joan Massague, a Howard Hughes
Medical Institute researcher at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in
New York, and colleagues have been making a painstaking search for the products
used by cancer cells to spread.
The tumor cells must first
travel around the body, find the bone or tissue they will invade and then
literally break in. Each process will require different genes and proteins.
Researchers identified 48 genes
and their protein products that seem to help tumor cells spread, Massague said.
-----------------------Blood Vessels Enable Tumors
By Serena Gordon
MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2003 -- Blood vessels near cancer cells appear to help them grow by "telling" them where to go for nutrition and oxygen, say researchers from Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The researchers say blood vessels signal cancer cells, essentially directing them where to get the nourishment they need to grow. According to the study, this can happen even before new blood vessels grow to support the cancer cells.
"We've demonstrated a give-and-take relationship in which cancer cells release signals to nearby blood vessels to stimulate new vessel growth, and in turn, blood vessels release signals that sustain the migrating cancer cells as they try to establish themselves in new tissue," Mark Dewhirst, a cancer biologist at Duke, says in a statement.
Results of the study appear in the Dec.19 2003 online issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Express .
Scientists had already known that tumors release proteins that cause new blood vessels to grow. What they didn't realize was that cells in the blood vessels were also sending signals to the tumor cells that let the cancer cells know where to grow.
Using cell cultures and animal models, Dewhirst and his colleagues looked at how certain chemical signals affected the growth of cancer cells and blood vessels.
They found that a signal called bFGF didn't affect cancer cells in a test tube. However, that same signal in the human body helps to promote the survival of cancer cells. The researchers further discovered that cancer cells don't even have receptors for bFGF. Without a receptor for this signal, cancer cells can't communicate with it, suggesting this chemical signal must be acting on another part of the body to help sustain cancer growth (ie-on blood vessels).
The researchers also did experiments blocking either the protein known as VEGF or a protein receptor called Tie2. Both aid in blood vessel growth. When either wasn't able to express normally, cancer cells couldn't thrive, which suggests this protein and protein receptor aren't just aids in blood vessel growth, but in tumor survival.
"This is a very elegant study," says Dr. Jay Brooks, chief of hematology and oncology at Ochsner Clinic Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. "It shows the relationship of tumor cells and blood vessels and how they interact, and how proteins in the blood promote the growth and spread of tumors."
Disrupting this process, he says, "will hopefully lead us to ways to prevent cancers from spreading or slow their progress."
He does caution, however, that these experiments are in the very early stages. The goal would be to create a chemical that could disrupt this process, he adds.
CUTTING-EDGE CANCER INFO
Molecular Targeted Therapy
Finding a 'true' Cutting Edge Oncologist
The Cancer-Team Concept
Having a Medical Advocate
A "Better" Chemo
The Early Formula for "Cecily's Oil"
Graphing the Treatment
Be Complication Aware
An Early Test for Lung Cancer
The Need For New Drug Approval Laws
60 Minutes Story: The FDA and Politics
AP: FDA Silences Internal Critics
Quality of the Best Rated Hospitals
Cancer Blood Dialysis?
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