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Key to treating cancer may be finding its original cell
Date:8/11/2008

e to GNPs went on to form medulloblastoma tumors.

According to Wechsler-Reya, these studies provide the first definitive proof that medulloblastoma can be triggered in a granule neuron precursor or a stem cell. But even more importantly, they suggest that when it comes to cancer formation, the cell type in which a mutation happens is as important as the mutation itself. Although stem cells that lack patched also gave rise to other forms of brain cells, those cells did not form the tumors.

"Simply mutating a gene is not enough to cause cancer," Wechsler-Reya said. "The mutation has to happen in the right cell type at the right time. In the case of patched, GNPs provide the critical context for tumor formation."

Wechsler-Reya said that cancer biologists need to learn more about the genes that regulate proliferation (cell division), differentiation, survival, and programmed cell death in normal cells. A mutation in a proliferation gene, for example, can send the cell on a path of exaggerated division of cells -- becoming a fast-growing tumor. Understanding the way these genes are controlled during normal development can shed light on how they go awry in human cancers.


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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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