Ideally cancer treatments target specific weaknesses in the cell processes that lead to cancer. The drug Gleevec has been designed to disrupt the growth of leukemia cells by blocking a binding site of a key protein found only in tumor cells and not in normal cells.
The growth of leukemia cells is stimulated when the mutant cancer enzyme BCR-ABL phosphorylates a substrate protein. This occurs when BCR-ABL takes a phosphate group from a bound ATP molecule and transfers it to the substrate. This causes the substrate to change shape. It can then go on to stimulate leukenia cell growth.
Gleevec's shape mimics ATP, and binds to the same site on BCR-ABL that ATP normally occupies. Gleevec thus prevents phosphorylation of the substrate protein, and inhibits leukemia cell growth.
Knowing the genetic path that a particular cancer follows could someday help physicians better treat individual patients. By determining the genetic defects responsible for a specific cancer, physicians might be able to select the therapy that will be most effective at eliminating that cancer. Furthermore, each cancer-causing gene that researchers identify can serve as a target for the development of more specific therapies that will wipe out cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
From lecture two of the 2003 From the 2003 Holiday Lectures Series "Learning From Patients: The Science of Medicine."
Gleevec Teaching Tips
The animations in this section have a wide variety of classroom applications. Use the tips below to get started but look for more specific teaching tips in the near future. Please tell us how you are using the animations in your classroom by sending e-mail to email@example.com.
Use the animations to make abstract scientific ideas visible and concrete.
Explain important scientific principles through the animations. For example, the biological clocks animations can be used to demonstrate the fundamentals of transcription and translation.
Make sure that students learn the material by repeating sections of the animations as often as you think necessary to reinforce underlying scientific principles. You can start, restart, and play back sections of the animations.
Urge students to use the animations in accordance with their own learning styles. Students who are more visually oriented can watch the animations first and read the text later, while others might prefer to read the explanations first and then view the graphics.
Incorporate the animations into Web-based learning modules that you create to supplement your classroom curricula.
Encourage students to incorporate the animations into their own Web-based projects.
The 2003 Holiday Lectures Series "Learning From Patients: The Science of Medicine."