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2 at 1 stroke -- how cells protect themselves from cancer
Date:3/16/2010

>Now, for the first time, Dr. Reimann, Dr. Soyoung Lee, Dr. Christoph Loddenkemper, Dr. Jan R. Drr, Dr. Vedrana Tabor and Professor Schmitt have provided evidence that the Myc oncogene plays a key role in the activation of both protection programs without the presence of the ras oncogene. "What is remarkable about this finding is that an oncogene can first trigger apoptosis and interact with the tumor stroma the tissue that surrounds the tumor which also contains healthy cells and with the immune system and then is able to switch on signals which lead to tumor senescence," Professor Schmitt said, summarizing how the interaction works.

"Fundamental significance"

According to the researchers' findings, the cascade occurs as follows: First the Myc oncogene triggers apoptosis in the lymphoma cells. The dying, apoptotic cells attract macrophages of the immune system, which devour and dispose of the dead lymphoma cells. The thus activated macrophages in turn secrete messenger molecules (cytokines), including the cytokine TGF-beta. It can block the growth of cancer cells in the early stage of a tumor disease. The MDC and Charit researchers discovered that the cytokines in the tumor cells that had escaped apoptosis switch on the senescence program and suppress the cancer cells.

"Our findings promise to have fundamental significance for elucidating the pathogenesis not only of lymphoma cancers, but of cancer in general. Our results indicate that senescence triggered by the immune system's messenger molecules may be a further important active principle, apart from apoptosis induced by chemotherapy."

At present the researchers in Professor Schmitt's group are focusing intensively on chemotherapy-mediated senescence. "If by inducing senescence we could obtain a sustained suppression of the cancer cells we can no longer destroy, this would mean exciting new possibilities for therapy," Professor Schmitt said.


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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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