Biochemical Approaches to Cancer by Eric Reid

By Eric Reid

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4. Structures of certain carcinogens, I I - V are drawn so as to show the structual relationship to cholanthrene. ) I 1,2 : 3,4-diepoxybutane. II dibenz[a-/r]anthracene (1,2 : 5,6-dibenzanthracene). III benzo[tf]pyrene (3,4-benzpyrene). Ring numbering in parentheses refers to the parent compound, pyrene. IV 3-methylcholanthrene (20-methylcholanthrene). V benzfajacridine (1,2-benzacridine). Ring numbering in parentheses refers to the parent compound, acridine. -phenylazoaniline (4-dimethylaminoazobenzene).

The structure of many carcinogens is such that they could be regarded as "alkylating agents", sometimes capable of alkylation even at neutral pH values as prevail in the living cell 42 (see also Magee 1 9). It would in fact be foolish to expect a single mechanism common to all chemical carcinogens. Theories based on alkylation and applied with discrimination represent a valuable approach which need not invalidate other approaches. The classical alkylating agents such as mustard gas are notable for two biological properties which may go hand-in-hand with carcinogenicity: mutagenicity and cytotoxicity.

Meanwhile there is still an important place for the more classical approaches which form the main theme of this book. These approaches centre on analyses of tissue constituents and on assays of enzymic activities. Only by judicious choice of enzymes or other constituents can pointers be obtained to fundamental derangements of regulatory mechanisms in neoplasia, as distinct from ancillary changes the interest of which is mainly in connection with pharmacology. It is a reasonable supposition that metabolic derangements of close relevance to neoplasia will lie at rate-limiting steps.

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