STUDY: COVID-19 Spike Proteins Help Cancer Cells Survive and Resist Chemotherapy

A new preprint cell study from Brown University has found that the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), helps cancer cells survive and resist chemotherapy.

According to the study, led by Dr. Wafik El-Deiry, the director of Brown's Legorreta Cancer Centerspike protein may promote cancer survival and growth through interference with anti-cancer activities, blocking the function of a crucial cancer suppressor gene known as p53.

El-Deiry and his colleagues observed that when cancer cells encountered spike protein subunits, it reduced the activity of p53, a protein that helps defend the body against tumors. This allowed the cancer cells to escape the body's natural defenses against tumor formation. El-Deiry also explained that interfering with p53 can both foster cancer development and bolster cancer growth.

The study also used chemotherapy drugs to activate the p53 genes, but instead of dying, the researchers found that cancer cells containing spike protein subunits displayed increased resistance to chemotherapy, a standard treatment for various types of cancers.

"We saw enhanced cancer cell viability in the presence of SARS-CoV-2 spike S2 subunit after treatment with several chemotherapy agents," said El-Deiry.

More and more studies are linking COVID-19 vaccines to cancer cases

A Japanese study, published in the medical journal Cureus on April 8, backed the findings of the research from Brown.

The study examined age-adjusted mortality rates for 20 different types of cancer in Japan using official statistics on death, SARS-CoV-2 infections and vaccination rates from 2020 to 2022. Japan, which is now administering its seventh vaccine dose, shows "statistically significant increases" in cancer deaths following the administration of the third vaccine dose.

During the initial year of the pandemic in 2022, there were no excessive cancer mortalities (-0.4 percent). However, the data shows some excess cancer mortalities of 1.1 percent after the mass vaccination campaigns with the first and second doses in 2021, and then higher excess cancer mortalities of 2.1 percent in 2022 after the rollout of the third vaccine dose.

In 2022, excess mortalities for all cancers, specifically estrogen and estrogen receptor alpha (ER?)-sensitive cancers, including ovarian, leukemia, prostrate, lip/oral/pharyngeal, pancreatic and breast cancers, became substantial. Aside from the ER?-sensitive cancers, the study also shows a concerning trend in mortality rates for the most fatal cancers—lung, colorectal, stomach and liver cancers—which were declining before the pandemic. Nevertheless, the rate of decline decelerated following the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

All six cancer types exceeded anticipated mortality values in 2021 and 2022, even though pancreatic cancer already displayed a steady rise predating the pandemic.

The highest number of cancer-related mortalities occurred among individuals aged 80 to 84, with over 90 percent of this group having received a third vaccine dose. Almost 100 percent of the vaccines administered were mRNA-based, predominantly Pfizer's (78 percent) followed by Moderna's (22 percent).

Furthermore, the researchers argued that even with reduced cancer screenings and limited healthcare access at that time, the mortality rate increase in these cancer types is still unexplainable due to resolved restrictions on healthcare access for cancer screenings and treatments in 2022. 

(Article by Laura Harris republished from )

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