Scientists may have discovered a new way of killing tumours in what they hope could one day lead to alternative forms of cancer treatments.
The University of Manchester research has identified a key gene that appears to play a critical role in the normal process of cell division.
Cells divide creating new cells as part of the bodys natural growth, renewal and healing processes but cancer results when cells divide in an uncontrolled way.
What the Manchester team has discovered is that a protein in our cells called Bub 1 is essential for normal cell division to take place; if the gene that generates Bub 1 is switched off then the cells are unable to divide successfully.
Bub 1 is an enzyme that controls several processes required for cell division to occur, said Dr Stephen Taylor, who led the research in the Faculty of Life Sciences.
We have shown that mouse embryos lacking the Bub 1 gene are unable to develop. Older cell types also failed to divide when the gene is switched off, while male mice lacking Bub 1 became infertile as their sperm cells died.
In fact, deactivating Bub 1 had such a profound effect on cell division at all stages of a cells life - known as the cell cycle - that the team is hopeful it will have a similar effect on cancer cells.
Before cells can divide they have to duplicate and then distribute their genetic material so that the two daughter cells receive all the genetic information for further growth and development, said Dr Taylor, whose work is funded by the charity Cancer Research UK.
The distribution phase has to be done with a high degree of accuracy - just one chromosome segregated incorrectly, for instance, leads to Downs syndrome - so the cell has a surveillance mechanism which acts as a brake to delay chromosome segregation until accuracy has been guaranteed.
An important part of this intricate surveillance system is Bub 1. The team found that when the
|Contact: Aeron Haworth|
University of Manchester