About This Project
What if I told you that there exists a natural molecule that changes cancer cells into normal cells? Ever since the War on Cancer began in the 1960s, we have seen attempts to kill cancer cells, though none of these approaches have worked. With the natural molecule that I discovered, methyl sulfone, I am now experimenting with a hypothesis that this molecule can be delivered directly to cancer cells and turn the cancer cells into normal cells.
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
I unearthed a natural molecule, methyl sulfone which is able to convert cancer cells into normal cells. The current method to treat cancer is to try to kill cancer cells. This approach has not been successful. Methyl sulfone is nontoxic and is a naturally occurring molecule on Earth. You can find methyl sulfone in organisms such as fish and grasses and it is found in many vegetables we eat. Humans don't synthesize methyl sulfone, but obtain it from consuming foods. Levels of this methyl sulfone has decreased in our foods, particularly in processed foods.
What is the significance of this project?
Late stage or metastatic cancer is incurable. Methyl sulfone is effective against many forms of metastatic cancer because it turns aggressive cancer cells into normal cells.
8 million people world wide (http://www.who.int/mediacentre... (2012): World Health Organization) die of cancer each year. Because methyl sulfone is inexpensive relative to current chemotherapeutic drugs, this molecule may be used to treat people who cannot afford current treatments.
What are the goals of the project?
My hypothesis is that treating cancer cells with methyl sulfone in the human body will transform cancer cells into healthy human cells. I designed a system to deliver methyl sulfone directly to metastatic cells. This system involves nanocapsules which will contain methyl sulfone. Delivery of nanocapsules to cancer cells will rely on my genomic data, which has identified genes specifically targeted by methyl sulfone. Fluorescence microscopy is required for these experiments. I have a phase contrast Zeiss Axio Observer A1 microscope. Modifications require a fluorescence light source, objective and filters and a HD CCD camera. These modifications require the expertise of Zeiss Microscopy. The Zeiss quote is $20,000 for parts and labor.
To test my hypothesis, I need to be able to do fluorescence microscopy. I currently own a beautiful Zeiss phase contrast microscope. To modify my microscope for fluorescence microscopy will cost $20,000. This will include a fluorescent objective lens, a digital HD CCD camera and an LED light source specific for FITC, Texas red and DAPI fluorescence. The quote is from Zeiss Microscopes and includes labor costs.
We need the fluorescent objective lens because we determine whether or not a cancer cell has turned into a healthy cell by using antibodies that attach to specific biomarkers on the cell. Biomarker A verifies that the cell is still cancerous. Biomarker B verifies that the cell is healthy. Our antibody for biomarker A is green and our antibody for biomarker B is red. By measuring the fluorescence of the cells I'll be able to see if the cells have turned healthy or stayed cancerous.
Meet the Team
My team includes my twin sister, Jane M. Caron. Jane is a co-author on our 2015 publication. Together we are truly world experts on methyl sulfone and metastatic cancer.
Joan M. Caron
Dr. Caron interviewed by Hartford, CT, CBS TV station about her research. I wanted to be a biologist and researcher since I took my first biology class in high school. I was in awe of the natural world having no idea that it is so magnificent and beautifully simple. To this goal I received a Ph.D. in Cellular Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Connecticut Health Center. Then I became a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. I continued my research in San Francisco for 9 years becoming a professor in the School of Medicine. Next I had a chance to move back to my home state so I moved to the University of Connecticut Health Center, School of Medicine. I was a professor here for 23 years. While I continued my research I also became the first Director of Medical Student Research. I developed a class called "Fundamentals of Basic Science and Clinical Research" The first year I taught three students. After the first year the class size rose to 40 students. I helped to get two of my students accepted into the prestigious NIH Medical Student Research Scholars Program, a first for my university. As much as I enjoyed teaching, I am passionate about research. Therefore, last year I left the university and started my own laboratory to continue studying my nontoxic anti-metastatic cancer molecule, methyl sulfone. For the first time in over two decades I am able to do research full time. This is heaven. My lab is well equipped except that I cannot do fluorescence microscopy, a technique critical for my future studies. I am still as joyfully amazed with the natural world as I was when I was 16 years old. And I hope with your generosity, time and help I will be able to bring my research forward to clinical studies.
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Fluorescence photomicrograph of a healthy human cell.
My peer-reviewed publications on methyl sulfone:
Caron et al. Methyl Sulfone Induces Loss of Metastatic Properties and Reemergence of Normal Phenotypes in a Metastatic Cloudman S91 (M3) Murine Melanoma Cell Line (2010) PLoS ONE 5(8): e11788, doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0011788e.0;
Caron et al. Methyl Sulfone Manifests Anticancer Activity in a Metastatic Murine Breast Cancer Cell Line and in Human Breast Cancer Tissue – Part I: Murine 4T1 (66cl-4) Cell Line (2013a) Chemotherapy 59: 14-23;
Caron et al. Methyl Sulfone Manifests Anticancer Activity in a Metastatic Murine Breast Cancer Cell Line and in Human Breast Cancer Tissue – Part 2: Human Breast Cancer Tissue (2013b) Chemotherapy 59: 24-34;
Caron and Caron. Methyl Sulfone Blocked Multiple Hypoxia and Non-Hypoxia-Induced Metastatic Targets in Breast Cancer Cells and Melanoma Cells (2015) PLoS ONE 10(11): e01411565.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141565.
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