Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Healthy vs Cancer Cells
Name: Alyssa
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: IL
Country: USA
Date: N/A 


Question:
I have a question, I was thinking, if somebody had cancer could we cure it by multiplying healthy cells? I was reading something in my science book and they were experimenting on frogs. They some how multiplied the frogs cells, so if a person had cancer could they do the same thing with their healthy cells?



Replies:
Alyssa,

That is a very good question! In some sense, the short answer to your question is, "yes".

Recent research on the study of cancer has yielded a wealth of information. It has been said that "we've learned so much in the last 18 months, than we have in the past 25 years."

First you must consider the different types of cancer, and there are two scenarios I could use to explain how your thoughts would apply. The first is a cancer that is a tumor cell, and the second is a cancer that is a mutation of the DNA or genes of a living cell.

There has been some research that hasn't been approved yet, where we can increase the strengths of our immune system, to generate more T-Cells or "protector" cells to help fight of or "kill" tumor cells. It's somewhat similar to receiving immunization shots to help fight against new diseases or the flu.

The other scenario is a cancer where your DNA or genes become mutated. Early detection of the mutation can help identify if a person has cancer, but further research could help us understand why the mutations occur, and someday we may be able to identify how we can limit the mutation (extend the life of a cell), or stop the mutation (and allow the growth of a healthy cell), or determine how both, the mutation and the living cell, can co-exist.

Hope that helps.

-Alex Viray



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory