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Cancer less cancerous?

Cancer less cancerous?

Publish date: 2013-05-08

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified a gene which repressed in tumor cells, puts a halt to cell growth and a range of processes needed for tubers to enlarge and spread to distant sites. The researchers hope that this so-called "master regulator” gene may be the key to develop a new treatment for resistance to current drugs.

Tags: medicine , cancer

"This master regulator is normally turned off in adult cells, but it’s very active during embryonic development and in highly aggressive tumors" said Linda Resar, M.D., an associate professor of medicine, affiliate in the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"Our work shows for the first time that switching this gene off in aggressive cancer cells dramatically changes their appearance and behavior."

Resar has been investigating genes in the master regulator's family, known as high mobility group or HMG genes for twenty years. On top of their role in cancer these genes are essential for giving stem cells their special powers and that's no coincidence

"Many investigators account cancer cells to be the evil twin of stem cells, because like stem cells, cancer cells must acquire special properties to enable the tuber to grow and metastasize or spread to different sites," she explained.

In an earlier study , Resar and her team devised techniques to block the HMGA1 gene in cells in order to study its role in those cells. In their researches, they discovered that HMGA1 is revelant for reprogramming adult cells, like blood or skin cells, into stem cells that share most, if not all, properties of embryonic stem cells.

In the newest reported study, the Resar team applied the same techniques to several strains of human breast cancer cells in the laboratory.

"The aggressive breast cancer cells grow rapidly and normally appear spindle-shaped or thin and elongated. Remarkably, within a few days of blocking HMGA1 expression, they appeared rounder and much more like normal breast cells growing in culture," said Resar.

Finally, Resar says, is trying to develop a therapy based on that principle. The group of researches is working with other researchers at Johns Hopkins to see whether HMGA1 could be delivered to tubers inside nanoparticles.

Another possible approach, she says, would be to block not HMGA1 itself, but one of the pathways or processes that it affects.

 

Source:

www.sciencedaily.com [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502185252.html]

[accession date: May 2 2013]

 

Agnieszka Dąbrowska

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