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Cancer gene drives pivotal decision in early brain development
Date:11/13/2007

disabilities. Insights from the study of this Nf1 mouse strain may provide a hint to where the problems lie.

"In our investigations of the relationship of neurofibromin with neuronal differentiation, we found loss of Nf1 expression delayed the neuron's ability to make proteins important for growing new branches," Gutmann says. "While we haven't proven this yet, our studies suggest a developing neuron's ability to make connections with other neurons might be impaired when the Nf1 gene is dysfunctional. Problems making proper connections could hamper learning and memory."

Gutmann plans additional studies of the mouse model to investigate the possibility that stem cells are critical contributors to the formation and maintenance of neurofibromatosis type 1 brain tumors.

"Because they lack the constraints on growth and replication present in more mature cells, stem cells are being studied more intensively as an important cell type to target in cancer therapy," Gutmann says. "The mice developed in this study will be invaluable to help address the role of stem cells in brain tumor formation and growth."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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