Navigation Links
Fruit flies light the way for A*STAR scientists to pinpoint genetic changes that spell cancer

By studying fruit flies, scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have successfully devised a fast and cost-saving way to uncover genetic changes that have a higher potential to cause cancer. With this new approach, researchers will now be able to rapidly distinguish the range of genetic changes that are causally linked to cancer (i.e. "driver" mutations) versus those with limited impact on cancer progression. This research paves the way for doctors to design more targeted treatment against the different cancer types, based on the specific cancer-linked mutations present in the patient. This study published in the prestigious journal Genes & Development could help advance the development of personalised medicine in cancer care and treatment.

The era of genomic sequencing has generated an unparalleled wealth of information on the complexity of genetic changes that occur as cancer develops and progresses. "Many genetic changes arise in cancer cells and changes continue to accumulate during the progression of disease to metastatic cancer [1]. The current challenge is to understand which of the many genetic changes are important drivers of disease progression" said Dr. Stephen Cohen, Principal Investigator at IMCB and team leader of this paper.

Though very different in many ways, fruit flies and humans share similarities in a remarkable two-thirds of their genomes. That is to say, many of the genes found in humans are also present in the flies. Similarly, various signalling pathways involved in tumour formation are also well conserved from fruit flies to humans. In fact, previous studies have shown that about 75 percent of known human disease genes have a recognisable match in the genome of fruit flies [2].

Leveraging on their genetic similarities, Dr Hctor Herranz, a post-doctorate from the Dr Cohen's team developed an innovative strategy to genetically screen the whole fly genome for "cooperating" cancer genes. On their own, these are the genes that appear to be harmless and have little or no impact on cancer. But in fact, they cooperate with other cancer genes, so that the combination causes aggressive cancer, which neither would cause alone.

In this study, the team was specifically looking for genes that could cooperate with EGFR [3] "driver" mutation, a genetic change commonly associated with breast and lung cancers in humans. SOCS5, reported in this paper, is one of the several new "cooperating" cancer genes to be identified through this innovative approach. Most of these new-found genes have yet to be identified as cancer genes in human or mouse models.

Said Mr Xin Hong, a PhD student and the co-first author of this paper, "We were very surprised by our finding because this it the first time that the Socs gene family is found to be linked to cancer. Previously it has only been associated with immunological disorders."

Dr. Cohen added, "Though these studies are in the early stages, they are very promising. Already, there are indications that levels of SOCS5 expression are reduced in breast cancer, and patients with low levels of SOCS5 have poor prognosis."

The IMCB team is preparing to explore the use of SOCS5 as a biomarker in diagnosis for cancer.

Said Professor Wanjin Hong, Executive Director of IMCB, "This study sheds light on the complexities of cancer genetics and paves the way to accelerate development of personalised medicine in cancer care. It is a fine examples of how powerful genetic approach using the fly model can reveal molecular mechanisms underlying human cancer. More importantly, it shows how fundamental research can have far-reaching applications for potential clinical benefits."

Contact: Dr. Sarah Chang
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

Related medicine news :

1. Fruit flies reveal mechanism behind ALS-like disease
2. Exercise and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables extends life expectancy in women in their 70s
3. For Healthier Eating, Keep Fruits, Veggies Within Reach
4. Here Are Fruits, Veggies That Offer Best Bang for Your Buck
5. Red wine, fruit compound could help block fat cell formation
6. John Theurer Cancer Center researchers shed light on new multiple myeloma therapy
7. Some harmful effects of light at night can be reversed
8. Even Slight Mental Decline Can Harm Health, Studies Suggest
9. Spaceflight may extend the lifespan of microscopic worm
10. Light Fireworks Not Cigarettes this Fourth of July with South Beach Smoke
11. Eczema Non-Profit Seeks To Shine New Light On Overlooked Condition
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Fruit flies light the way for A*STAR scientists to pinpoint genetic changes that spell cancer
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether ... latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, ... their goal. , Research from reveals that behind the tendency ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone ... physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If ... at my other children and say he was going to kill them. If we ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited ... To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. ... highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Living, is proud to recognize Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic ... most beautiful women in the world, and the most handsome men, look naturally ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) ... held on June 20th at the Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, ... organization dedicated to helping service members that have been wounded in battle and their ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Bay ... Rehabilitation Network,s Dean Center for Tick Borne ... Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of ... Innovation, today announced the five finalists of ... Lyme disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) today ... allow biopharmaceutical companies to more easily share health care ... coverage decisions, a move that addresses the growing need ... The recommendations address restrictions in the sharing of product ... a prohibition that hinders decision makers from accessing HCEI ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... to their offering. ... World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the world market for ... report includes the following: , World IVD ... (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , World IVD Companion ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: