Question by xixsarah19: How do chemotherapy drugs interact chemically with cancer cells to get rid of the cancerous cells?
I have to give a chemistry project tomorrow in class and I need to have a basic understanding of what goes on chemically between chemotherapy drugs and the cancerous cells. Like what element interacts with what and how the chemo drugs stop the cancer cells from replicating. If anyone even has a most basic chemical explanation as to what occurs I would really appreciate it.
Answer by april
Drugs that are effective in treating cancer interfere with the activity of cancer cells, either by going in directly to sabotage a specific phase of cell development or by sending confusing messages that cause the cells to do the wrong thing and thereby destroy themselves. Not all drugs are effective against all cancers, and the different groups of drugs act in different way.
Alkylating agents: Interfere with cell division and affect the cancer cells in all phases of their life cycle. They confuse the DNA by directly reacting with it.
Anti-metabolites: Interfere with the cell’s ability for normal metabolism; they either give the cells wrong information or block the formation of “building block” chemical reactions which the cell needs to replicate itself.
These are phase-specific drugs–they only work in one phase of the cell’s life cycle.
Vinca Alkaloids (plant alkaloids). Naturally occurring chemicals that stop cell division in a specific phase.
Antibiotics: Also made from natural substances that interfere with cell division; they can affect cancer cells in all phases of their life cycle and interfere with DNA synthesis.
Hormones: Substances that occur naturally in the human body; they give messages that either encourage or stop growth or activities in certain cells or organs. There are two types of hormones: sex, or steroid, hormones, and gluco-corticoid hormones. The sex hormones act on a very specific group of tissues and are useful in treating cancers of the prostate, breast, uterus, and kidney. Gluco-corticoid hormones act on a wide variety of tissues and organs and have been used to treat Hodgkin’s disease; lymphocytic and histolytic lymphoma; lymphoblastic, lymphocytic, and acute myelogenous leukemia; and multiple myeloma.
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