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Opposing functions of a key molecule in the development of organisms
Date:3/12/2010

should be checked now whether this also operates in mice and humans. They speculate that it does because the ligand-receptor system of Notch activation has been conserved in all organisms. "If this new mechanism is also present in vertebrates, it should be taken into consideration when designing effective therapies against certain kinds of cancer, such as T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL)", concludes Miln.

It is well established that the Notch pathway controls the development of T lymphocytes, cells of the immune response system found in blood. The cells destined to become lymphocytes receive the appropriate signalling through Notch receptors. In more than half T-ALL patients the Notch receptor is permanently activated in the T-cell precursors. Thus the continuous proliferation of cells is stimulated until tumours form. "A priori, blocking the Notch receptor could appear to be a good strategy to combat this kind of leukaemia. However, the results of our work suggest that blocking the receptor only in some cells would cause undesirable effects in adjacent cells", warns Miln.


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Contact: Snia Armengou
sonia.armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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