The Care of the Cancer Patient by L. G. Capra D.M.R.T. (auth.)

By L. G. Capra D.M.R.T. (auth.)

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44 The Care of the Cancer Patient Enzymes L-Asparaginase breaks down the circulating amino acid asparagine. This is needed by all human cells, but while normal cells of the bone marrow can make it, tumour cells cannot. Other Drugs There are many drugs which either do not fit neatly into one group, or whose mode of action is not yet completely understood. This is often more true of recently introduced drugs. Toxic Effects of Chemotherapy From a study of the mode of action of cytotoxic drugs it is obvious that it is the dividing cell which is vulnerable.

The 'wise women' of the past knew the benefits of an extract of foxglove long before the scientist isolated the active ingredient, digitalis. Extracts of the autumn crocus have been used to treat gout for over 1,000 years, but only in the last 30 years have we appreciated its antitumour properties. Sobered by these discoveries we have now embarked on a survey of these and other agents derived from plants and fungi. It is now customary to study any new chemical compound both for its antibacterial and antitumour properties.

Other agents of this type are 6-mercaptopurine and 6·thioguanine, their clinical usage varies. Chemical Numbers Chemicals which form part of living organisms are called organic. The groups of atoms of which they are composed are often joined in a ring structure. To each of these groups can be added on a string of other groups. these are known as side chains. To make it easier to discuss changes, each group in the ring is numbered, and any Significant change there, or in the attached side chain, is referred to the number.

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