New weaknesses found in Cancer


They found a previously unknown gene that keeps tumor cells from killing themselves but that does not appear to be needed by normal, healthy cells. A second team found another new genetic process that also appears to be unique to tumors.

Both discoveries relate to a gene mutation involved in as many as 30 percent of cancers, the researchers reported in two studies in the journal Cell -- an attractive target for a potentially useful and profitable drug some day.

The studies also point to a quick and effective new way to look for ways to fight cancer, using RNA interference or RNAi, itself a hot area in biotechnology.

"Cancer cells aren't super cells," Elledge said in a statement. "They are very sick cells that have needed to make a lot of compromises."

To find these compromises Elledge and Gilliland, who now works at Merck Research Laboratories, used high-throughput RNAi. The employed small stretches of genetic material called RNA to slow down genes systematically.

"This strategy allows us to ask what the best targets are, with no preconceived notions," Elledge said.

The work is highly experimental and will take years to translate into human research. But, Gilliland said, "We were looking at genes that we thought we could target easily with drugs."



Post a Comment