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A potential new cancer treatment target, straight out of the ECM

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When reading about the use of hyaluronic acid in osteoarthritis, I started to look into hyaluronan and found that it is normally present in synovial fluid and is a component of the extracellular matrix.  It has a significant role in cell proliferation and migration.  Immediately, this links in my brain to cancer biology and the potential role in malignancy. 


When looking into this further, it was found that several tumours overproduce hyaluronan which promotes cell survival and multi drug resistance; massive barriers to treating cancers effectively.  In the presence of high levels of hyaluronan, cell senescence has been induced.  Could the use of hyaluronan degradation enzymes be effective as an adjuvant to chemotherapy in those patients with high levels of chemoresistance?  Or could the pathway activating the production be manipulated so that this chemical is not overproduced.  It has been shown that hyaluronate has a high rate of turnover in the body in normal conditions and if so, could present a problematic side effect profile.  In addition, the pathway responsible for the production of hyaluronate is the PI3K/Akt pathway, a central pathway for a number of key functions, again, maybe creating more problems than solutions. 


If more research were to be carried out in this area, the pathology surrounding high levels of hyaluronate could be documented and the more we understand about the complex role this plays in cancer biology, the closer we may become to being able to deliver novel and effective cancer treatments.

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