New Knowledge on the Spreading of Cancer

January 5, 2005

Research at the Finsen Institute explain how cancer tumours metastasize. The results may be of vital importance to the treatment of cancer and could give e.g. Vitamin C a central role.

A fundamental and unpleasant characteristic of cancer tumours is their ability to make metastases; cancer cells work loose from the original tumour and wander with the lymph or blood to the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. Here, they will settle and make new, independent tumours. Of course, this unfortunate process makes it incredibly difficult to completely cure the disease.

So – how can the metastasizing be prevented? More than ten years ago, the German-American M.D. Matthias Rath and the Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling made a joint hypothesis on this subject. They believed that a condition for metastases to be made was that the cancer cells should first make enzymes which break down the material and connective tissue that surrounds all cells like mortar around bricks.

The enzymes are necessary for both the ability of the cancer cells to break away from the original tumour and for them to penetrate healthy cells and install themselves in another organ.

The two scientists were particularly fastened upon a precursor (uPA) to the enzyme plasmin which partly breaks down the protein substance fibrinogen, and parly is involved in indirectly breaking down connective tissues etc.

They claimed that cancer patients could greatly benefit from particularly large doses of vitamin C, supplements of the amino acid Lysine, and the antioxidants (Epigallocatechin) in green tea. According to the two scientists, all these things would reduce the formation of uPA and thereby counteract metastasizing.

Now, at least the first part of the theory seems to hold water according to studies at the Danish Finsen Institute in Copenhagen. For more than five years, they have had a special interest in the very uPA enzymatic system, albeit without entering into the mentioned possibilities in regard to medical treatment. At least 15 articles regarding uPA have been published from this institute since 1999.

Most recently, a study of mice that was published in the International Journal of Cancer has aroused international interest. In six cases out of seven, it showed that genetically modified mice who had been made incapable of producing uPA did not form any metastases. The mice were doing fine without the enzyme. It seems, therefore, that the cancer needs this enzyme far more than does the healthy organism.

The perspective is, of course, that by inhibiting the uPA system, the cancer can be kept under control and medicine with strong side effects can be avoided. Both domestic and foreign research now carry conviction that the first part of the theory of Matthias Rath and Linus Pauling holds water. It strengthens the presumption – but unfortunately does not give proof – of the second part of the theory being right as well.

By: Vitality Council

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3) Rockway TW, Giranda VL. Inhibitors of the proteolytic activity of urokinase type plasminogen activator. Curr Pharm Des. 2003;9(19):1483-98.