If all the cells in a cancerous tumour had their apoptosis mechanisms 'turned back on' or reactivated or repaired by some 'yet to be discovered' process would this cause the tumour to 'self destruct' or be destroyed? Are there known processes that can repair or reactivate the apoptosis mechanisms in a cell?

  • $\begingroup$ Theoretically yes (but since nobody did that, we don't know). Yes there are therapies which aim to reactivate apoptosis. "Inhibiting the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL proteins may allow cells to restore their ability to undergo apoptosis" Btw. there are many more programmed cell death mechanisms, not just apoptosis (e.g. necroptosis). $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 22:53

1 Answer 1


The processes of apoptosis is not so simple, there is a lot of genes and proteins that participate in it. In cancer cells some of them mutate and not working properly.
Lack of apoptosis is the main problem in cancer. If cell not working properly, it dies. But not in cancer.
So theoretically, yes. If we will fix the apoptosis, the cell probably will die.
It's gene engineering direction. You need to target the cancer cell, and to change problem genes. It's really difficult processes. And every type of cancer has different mutations ...

Read this for example http://www.jeccr.com/content/30/1/87 (Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research )

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to biology SE - it would be great if you could add some references to your answer(s) $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a process or set of biochemical events that can repair or re-initialize the apoptosis mechanisms in any cells whether they're normal, pre-cancerous or cancerous. If there is some such process one wouldn't have to specifically target cancer cells. $\endgroup$
    – user128932
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ No such processes as far as I know, and to "target cancer cells" is the main problem in curing cancer. If we could "target" them, to kill them is pretty easy task. $\endgroup$
    – Robertos
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ Read this for example jeccr.com/content/30/1/87 (Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research ) $\endgroup$
    – Robertos
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 13:15

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