Podcasts

When Antioxidants are Pro-cancer (Base Pairs Episode 6)


Recent research on antioxidant levels in the cells of pancreatic cancer patients is homing in on a new, safer avenue for treatment. And it’s not what you’d think based on the reputation antioxidants have gained in popular culture.

Fighting cancer is so difficult in part because the healthy cells we want to support often end up casualties in the crossfire of toxic treatments. This episode of Base Pairs is about how we might overcome this obstacle even in some of the most difficult cases: patients with pancreatic cancer. Of all major cancers, pancreatic has the lowest survival rate, because patients are usually too sick to be helped by conventional therapies by the time they’re diagnosed. But recent research on antioxidant levels in the cells of pancreatic cancer patients is homing in on a new, safer avenue for treatment—and it’s not what you’d think based on the reputation antioxidants have gained in popular culture.

For Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month this November, we explore the relationship between antioxidants and cancer cells, and how exploiting it could lead to better treatments for pancreatic cancer. We go into the lab to see the 3D pancreas “organoids” that the researchers used (see photo above), an innovation that allows them to study new therapies in ways never possible before. And we meet the some of the incredibly strong people who are fighting back through research after losing loved ones to this disease.

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Extras for Episode 6:

Carol Whalen (white shirt), a tireless advocate for research on the disease that tragically claimed both her husband and daughter, stands alongside CSHL pancreatic cancer researchers at a fundraising walk held by the Lustarten Foundation. Dannielle Engle, the first researcher we meet in this episode, is standing directly to the right of Carol (Carol’s left), and Christine Chio, the second researcher we meet, is standing on the far right of the photo.

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Pancreatic cancer researcher Christine Chio, a postdoc in the lab of David Tuveson, gives a quick overview of how she used 3D organoids to explore the relationship between antioxidants and pancreatic cancer cells.

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