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A*STAR scientists score 'hat-trick' against cancer
Date:7/13/2010

Scientists from Singapore's Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have made three successive breakthroughs in key areas of cancer research. Their work, published in top scientific journals Cancer Cell, Nature Cell Biology, and Cancer Research, sheds light on the mechanism behind cancer metastasis, suggest why breast cancer cells live as long as they do, and show a better way to detect and fight cervical cancer.

Stopping the spread of cancer

A team of scientists led by Dr Zeng Qi , from A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) has made a discovery about how PRL-3, a protein that plays a key role in tumorigenesis and cancer metastasis, is regulated in the body by PCBP1. Together with her collaborator Dr. Leah Vardy from A*STAR's Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), the scientists found that PCBP1 impedes the translation of PRL-3 mRNA. Their discovery, published today in the leading journal Cancer Cell, sheds light on the role of PRL-3 in cancer and suggests possible ways to prevent metastasis, arguably the most pernicious and harmful aspect of the disease.

PRL-3 was first identified by Dr Zeng in 1998. However, the mechanism controlling the expression of PRL-3 is poorly understood. While trying to understand how PRL-3 expression is regulated in the body, the scientist discovered that PCBP1 was responsible for suppressing the expression of PRL-3. Using their mouse model, the scientists found that inducing over-expression of PCBP1 significantly reduced tumour size, suggesting that controlling levels of PCBP1 may be a means of suppressing the growth and spread of tumours in the body.

Said Dr Zeng, "The finding of PCBP1 as a potential tumor suppressor is highly significant as a similar mechanism may be regulating other cancer genes. Since PRL-3 plays multiple tasks in contributing to cancer metastasis, we are extremely excited to discover the mechanism underlying PR
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Contact: Joshua Tan
joshua_tan@a-star.edu.sg
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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