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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Cancer, Immortality, and the BAD protein

Updated: November 20th, 2018

How happy would you be if you were immortal??

Many of us have thoughts of death that are associated with fear and dread.  To be gone forever…pretty tough stuff to think about.  Over the years, there have been books and movies about the search for immortality.  One of the common themes is the loneliness that would happen as one lives through the loss friends and loved ones.  As centuries spiral on, one would become completely alone.

The more thought that goes into it, the clearer the realization becomes:

It is natural to pass on.   We enter the world, do a life’s worth of living, and then move on.

So what does this have to do with cancer?  Well, many things, but let’s look at cells.  It turns out that cells in the body are actually programmed to have lives like we do.  That is, they enter the world, do a life’s worth of living, and then move on.  When a cell passes, it often makes way for a new, young, healthy cell. And the cycle continues.

What is the force that causes a cell to have a normal death?  It turns out that the life of a cell is controlled by the DNA within it.  As a matter of fact, the DNA controls how long the cell will live.  At the end of a cell’s life, a process is started, beginning in the DNA.  This process is coded for in the genes, which are the blueprints of all the operations within the cell.

Normal, healthy cell death is brought about by a process called “apoptosis”.  Apoptosis is an active process, where a cell self-destructs at the end of it’s life.  This healthy cell death is the result of a series of reactions within the cell.

Now, when we imagine stuffy scientists making discoveries about apoptosis, most might think they pretty much lack any sense of humor.  Ah, readers, you are mistaken!  I have made a discovery in my research: scientists are funny!

Here is the evidence: the central molecule involved in the signaling pathway that produces apoptosis is called…..the BAD protein.  Get it? This protein is activated and something BAD happens…the death of the cell.  Ha! Ha!

Okay, now that you have wiped the tears from your eyes and relaxed your aching stomach muscles I’ll continue. In cancer, the BAD protein is turned off.  No BAD protein action, no apoptosis.  No end of life for the cell.

Like vampires, cancer cells strive for immortality.  They take resources from the blood of the body, and, at the body’s expense, try to evade death.


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  1. Samuel on October 15, 2010 at 7:21 am

    How do we get rid of this BAD protein in our cells? And how do we control our cells once we do?

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