Cancer cells are really quite amazing, but not in a good way.
They have these little pumps in their outer wall (the cell membrane). They go by a couple of different names, but the easiest one to remember is MDR.
MDR stands for Multi-Drug Resistance.
The reason these pumps are so amazingly bad is that they are able to save cancer cells from chemo drugs. How does this work?
The MDR-1 pump is built into cells naturally. Its normal function is to get the bad stuff out of cells, kind of like a little hallway out to the trash can.
The bad stuff gets literally pumped out of the cell, dumped outside of it, and the interior of the cell is now free of harmful substances.
Now, if we look at cancer cells, these MDR-1 pumps are really beefed up. They work overtime. They are very busy shuttling bad stuff out of the cancer cell to allow the cancer cell to live.
How does this relate to chemo?
Well, chemo drugs are essentially toxins to cancer cells (and to a certain extent also to healthy body cells..but that is a different topic). Anyway, the cancer cells would really like it if the chemo drugs would get out.
When we administer a first-line chemo treatment, a good number of the cancer cells actually die off. Some are left. And the ones that are left either have actively eluded chemo, or have changed to be able to elude chemo.
So the cells left are even more robust.
This is not good for us.
We attack these new cells with the second round of chemo, using different drugs. This is called a rescue protocol.
The problem is that the success rates are often significantly lower than that seen with the first chemo round since the remaining cancer cells are resistant.
Most commonly they have very active MDR-1 pumps.
As it turns out, there are substances that are able to paralyze cancer cells’ MDR pumps. These substances are called chemosensitizers. They have been shown to be able to effect higher kill rates with chemo drugs.
It was this information that prompted me to create the Apocaps formula for my patients.
When you think about the potential in chemosensitization, it is massive. More effective chemo. Or less chemo drugs with the same effect, minimizing side effects related to the chemo itself.
This is one of the reasons why oncologists don’t like it very much when vets in private practice start a dog with lymphosarcoma or something on prednisolone. It tends to make the chemo less effective for this reason.
If you would like to read more about how to integrate different approaches to cancer care, check out The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.