Isolating the right cholesterol can help cancer treatment

Lymphoma and high cholesterol are two serious diseases usually associated with separate organ systems.

Lymphoma and high cholesterol are two serious diseases usually associated with separate organ systems. Specialists may be brought in to diagnose or treat each of these conditions independently, prescribing medications like Lipitor or chemotherapy schedules, depending on the individual's situation. However, researchers have found that, in some cases, doctors may be able to handle various cholesterol and cancer problems with the same kind of medicine.

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have revealed that some kinds of lymphoma may be treatable without the use of caustic radiation therapies. Scientists looked at human cells afflicted with lymphoma and monitored how malignant cells use HDL cholesterol, a beneficial lipid, to survive and grow. In B-cell lymphoma cells, treatment with HDL showed that the cancerous bodies ate the cholesterol in order to fuel their cellular processes. Using that information, the scientists managed to imbed a particle of gold into synthesized HDL molecules, which, when absorbed by the cancer, suffocated and killed the lymphoma.

Alternative treatment routes
Scientists are hopeful that increasing levels of HDL cholesterol in lymphoma patients may result in better treatment of the disease without resorting to chemotherapy. Presenting patients with a nontoxic remedy for certain cancer and heart issues could result in better quality of life and survival rates, since the caustic effects of radiation can sometimes be detrimental to individuals' overall health. Gold particles within the cholesterol molecules has so far been the most successful, researchers said, because this metal has been shown in the past to be highly compatible with human biosystems.

The price of such therapy is unknown, as the procedure is still in research phases.

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