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How cancer cells loose their (Circadian) rhythm
Date:5/10/2010

Immortality and uncontrolled cell division are the fundamental differences between cancer cells and normal cells.

A widely held explanation for these differences is that the biological clocks in cancer cells are damaged and can't regulate cell division in the fashion that they do in normal cells.

This assumption is challenged by the results of the first experiment that has continuously monitored variations in the rate of cell division of cultured mammalian cells for extended periods. The results are reported this week in a paper published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The experiment discovered that one line of immortal cells have functioning biological clocks but their internal clocks have no effect on the rate at which they divide and grow. (Immortal cells have the same basic properties as cancer cells but are created in the laboratory where they are used for a wide variety of purposes.)

"The current assumption has been that the biological clocks in cancer cells have been disabled," says Julie Pendergast, a research associate who participated in the study. "We determined that the immortalized cells in our experiment had functioning biological clocks but these clocks don't control the process of cell division. That is the paradigm shifting aspect of our study."

If confirmed by follow-up studies, this insight could aid in the development of new cancer therapies.

"This strengthens the possibility that the biological clock pathway could be an effective target for anti-cancer drugs," says Shin Yamazaki, the research professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt who directed the project. "For example, if a drug could be found that restores the control of the biological clock over cancer cell division, it could reduce tumor growth."

Biologists have observed that cell division in normal cells in species ranging from unicellular organi
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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