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Neurotransmitters signal aggressive cancer, offer potential for early diagnosis

ese abnormal cells compared to their normal non-cancerous counterparts, and used new, powerful metabolite detectors to verify that these compounds were actually being made. We then took information gained from the mouse and asked whether the same human genes are expressed in poor prognosis as opposed to good prognosis human tumors. We found that the human genes that give rise to the key enzymes required to produce these metabolites were invariably switched on the poor prognosis but not the good prognosis tumor groups."

"Most people understand the revolution in medicine to be a DNA-centered search for mutations in genes that cause disease. This study illustrates another layer of the revolution - understanding how certain diseases, in this case cancer, are linked to abnormalities in cellular metabolism - an area called 'metabolomics'. We've described a unique tumor-associated pattern that we hope will provide new ways to diagnose these poor prognosis cancers earlier and to implement more effective treatments" Gordon says.

The researchers believe that metastatic neuroendocrine tumor cells use GABA signaling processes to communicate with each other and with their environment. "Through carefully planned clinical trials, we may be able to evaluate the therapeutic potential of already available drugs that affect GABA signaling to treat these aggressive types of cancers," says Ippolito.

The association of GABA with aggressive tumors was uncovered by a novel combination of techniques that can now be employed for further identification of substances linked to tumors and other diseases. The resulting information will significantly advance diagnosis and treatment options.

"We used a way to cross from basic sequence information in genomes to information about the substances likely to arise in tumors" says Ippolito.

The research team first analyzed the activity of genes in the mouse tumors using GeneChips, miniaturized arrays of gene sequen
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Source:Washington University School of Medicine


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