Eduardo Díaz-Rubio, President of the Royal Academy of Medication: “In 20 years we will eradicate cervical most cancers in Spain”

2024-05-19 15:00:00
Dr. Eduardo Díaz-Rubio, President of the Royal Nationwide Academy of Medication of Spain. (Helena Margaret Cotadras)

Hippocrates, Galen, Averroes, Miguel Cevert, Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch… these are simply a few of the names on the frieze within the auditorium of the Royal Nationwide Academy of Medication of Spain (RANME) . Distinguished docs commit their lives to the development of science, or in different phrases, to the widespread good.Though it has no bodily location, there’s a feminine identify flying over it Faculty house: A girl who, regardless of her loss of life greater than 70 years in the past, nonetheless lives in 1000’s of laboratories all over the world and has saved tens of millions of individuals by way of her.

The very fact is that, on uncommon events, a affected person’s correct identify stands out within the historical past of medication (and within the historical past of these with out surnames). Logically, these professionals stand out with their work and intelligence and provide society a greater and longer lifestyle. Certainly one of them is Dr. Eduardo Díaz-Rubio (Cádiz, 1946), oncologist, director of the Royal Nationwide Academy of Medication and the Spanish Institute, and writer of Journey to Immortality. What We Have Realized About Cervical Most cancers; This work pays homage largely to the legacy of this lady: Henrietta Lacks.

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It was 1951, and Henrietta Lacks, 31, died of invasive cervical most cancers attributable to the human papillomavirus (HPV) at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. With out the affected person’s consent (bioethics would come 20 years later), Dr. George Otto Gey extracted most cancers cells from her tumor for subsequent evaluation. That is when Man’s shock and a turning level in medical historical past got here: As a substitute of dying, the younger African-American lady’s cells had been dividing at a dizzying fee, as many as six billion instances per week.

“Man has been pursuing a non-dead cell tradition for years. After a number of days, all their crops died,” defined Dr. Diaz-Rubio of Infobae in Spain. “However after a number of months, Henrietta’s cells continued to develop and turn out to be stronger. He then named them HeLa cells after her, though he didn’t reveal who they belonged to. Though Dr. Man by no means He benefited financially from the invention and selflessly donated HeLa to his analysis colleagues, however Henrietta by no means knew what occurred after the biopsy.

Seventy years after cervical most cancers claimed this lady’s life, her cells are nonetheless thriving in laboratories all over the world. However what’s so particular about these cells that they will stay endlessly? “On the one hand, the human papillomavirus integrates in a particular method. On this case, solely the genomes that activate the tumor course of are built-in, not those that stop it,” he clarified. Along with this, one other issue can be essential for understanding the immortality of HeLa cells, as a result of HPV integrates into a really particular area of chromosome eight, the place the c-MYC gene is positioned, and this area is oncogenic. “This destroys the cell’s whole management system as a result of different genes that usually suppress c-MYC, akin to p53 or retinoblastoma, do not present up. “This creates these great immortal cells which can be nonetheless rising continuous right this moment. “

Every cell in our physique divides about 50 instances earlier than getting older, which is named cell loss of life. That is the so-called Hayflick restrict. Because the famend oncologist explains, “Tumor cells have the property of manufacturing giant quantities of telomerase. “That is why most cancers cells develop indefinitely, however few tumor cell cultures have the energy of HeLa. ” In different phrases, in these seventy years, there has not been a most cancers affected person with the traits of Henrietta Lacks on this planet.

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Henrietta was by no means in a position to be part of all of it as a result of her cervical most cancers was devastating. Her household found this 20 years later, by which period the HeLa commerce was already a million-dollar enterprise, though they did not notice its true worth till the 2010 guide The Immortal Lifetime of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. scale. Final August, the Lacks household obtained compensation from Thermo Fisher Scientific for making the most of Henrietta’s cells with out her consent.

WHO names Henrietta Lacks household ambassador to get rid of cervical most cancers. (File photograph)

Henrietta Lacks left her biggest legacy to this point in drugs by way of her cells, unintentionally and with out consent. Up to now, HeLa has been utilized in greater than 74,000 research, has produced roughly 120,000 scientific publications, and has direct and oblique advertising and marketing of almost $10 billion yearly. They’ve even been used through the coronavirus pandemic to check SARS-COV-2’s potential to contaminate.

As Dr. Diaz-Rubio himself factors out within the guide, there isn’t any doubt that essentially the most fascinating factor about HeLa cells is that “because of them, medication had been developed to focus on poliovirus and human papillomavirus.” and different viruses. As well as, they permit the event of medicine in opposition to a variety of ailments, akin to breast most cancers, leukemia or Parkinson’s illness, and even allow in vitro fertilization, cloning, security of cosmetics or AIDS analysis.

Globally, 600,000 new girls are identified with cervical most cancers yearly, which killed Henrietta Lacks. In line with knowledge offered by the World Well being Group (WHO), greater than 350,000 of them ultimately died, with 94% of those deaths occurring in low- and middle-income international locations. “It is a illness that we are able to eradicate as a result of the vaccine in opposition to human papillomavirus may be very efficient. In 20 years we can have the likelihood to eradicate HPV and cervical most cancers, oropharyngeal most cancers, anal most cancers…” in Spain, mentioned Díaz-Rubio.

The issue arises in creating international locations the place “these vaccines should not accessible and even easy cytology assessments should not accessible”. Thus far this century, almost 8 million girls have died from cervical most cancers.

Dr. Eduardo Díaz-Rubio in an interview with “Infobae España”. (Helena Margaret Cotadras)

HeLa shouldn’t be the one cell being studied to realize immortality (if we perceive it as an object of scientific analysis). A lot has been written in regards to the magical elixir that preserves youth endlessly, with 1000’s of cosmetics promoted as real rejuvenants, however what’s the actuality of all of it? In reality, speaking about immortality nearly appears to drive us to speak about stem cells, the uncooked supplies of the physique from which all different specialised cells are generated.

“Embryonic stem cells are totipotent, they’ve essentially the most telomerase and are the cells of most curiosity to the scientific neighborhood, however working with embryonic cells is a really difficult matter from an moral and authorized perspective.” The complexity is that these stem cells come from A really early embryo (4 or 5 days after fertilization), referred to as a blastocyst. Visible assist: The diameter of a human blastocyst is roughly 4 instances the dimensions of a human hair.

“The invention that ‘junk proteins’ often is the origin of ALS is a significant advance in analysis, however we should stay cautious.”

Consultants clarify: “Now we are able to get hold of stem cells from grownup cells. For instance, by extracting pores and skin cells, you possibly can get hold of stem cells, which might result in the formation of liver, coronary heart…organs which were utilized in animals to realize cell Remedy or rejuvenation. The one that achieved this feat was Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012 and was appointed an honorary scholar of RANME. “This opens up an enormous discipline for rejuvenation or extending life expectancy. ,” he concluded.

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