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Cancer Treatment More Efficient During Night Time:Study

Update Date: Oct 07, 2014 06:15 PM EDT

A new study has shown cancer treatments could be more effective during night as malignant tumor cells were found to proliferate faster during late hours.

In their research, scientists from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel established the night time active proliferation of tumors based on functioning of two receptors on cancer cells. The two receptors are the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the glucocorticoid receptors (GR). EGFR is associated with growth and spread of cells including cancer cells, while glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that maintain energy levels in the body during the day, Daily Mail reported. Receptors pass on to the interior of the cell, messages received from other cells.

According to Science Daily, the cell is often presented with several messages. When one receptor receives a message, this could have an impact on other receptors. Researchers found that when a GC hormone bound to the GC receptor, it suppressed the activity of EGFR. As GC hormone levels peak during the day, EGFR activity is restricted during waking hours. It however functions nocturnally as GC levels tapper off during night.

To test their hypothesis, researchers gave breast cancer drug Lapatinib to a group of mice during different times in a day. Lapatinib works by curtailing EGFR activity. The experiments on mice corroborated the hypothesis that changes in GC levels are crucial in preventing growth of cancer cells.  

"Cancer treatments are often administered in the daytime, just when the patient's body is suppressing the spread of the cancer on its own. What we propose is not a new treatment, but rather a new treatment schedule for some of the current drugs," Forbes quoted Dr. Yosef Yarden, biology professor at Weizmann Institute of Science and study co-leader.

The study 'Diurnal suppression of ​EGFR signalling by glucocorticoids and implications for tumour progression and treatment' was published in Nature Communications

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