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Mayo Clinic identifies treatment target for liver cancer recurrence and survival
Date:4/10/2008

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Deadly and difficult to treat, liver cancer has long resisted attempts by researchers to develop ways to prolong life and prevent recurrence. But Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, reports in the April issue of Hepatology that the protein sulfatase 2 (SULF2) may provide one of the keys needed to begin the design of new therapies.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center leads the field in researching the impact and effect of SULF1, a protein whose normal role is to degrade heparin sulfate proteoglycans -- molecules that are part sugar and part protein. Mayo scientists have found that the protein also helps inhibit tumor growth. Now, Mayo researchers are studying a related gene, SULF2. The role of the SULF2 gene and protein has not been fully defined, but in this study, researchers investigated the effect of SULF2 on liver tumor growth in the laboratory. They found that increased expression of SULF2 enhances cancer cell growth and migration, whereas decreased expression reduces both.

The liver is designed to excrete toxins, and its tumors are no exception, says Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Lewis Roberts, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., the studys primary investigator. Our problem is that the tumors tend to excrete chemotherapeutic agents rather than be affected by them. So we are looking for ways to get around that.

The researchers sought answers by examining a protein related to one they already knew had a role in suppressing liver tumors. SULF1 and SULF2 are similar proteins, but cause opposing results. SULF1 removes sulfate groups that allow growth factors to bind to cells, thus inhibiting growth. The investigators found that SULF2 did the opposite -- it increased binding of a specific growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), to tumor cells, and also increased expression of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan glypican 3 (GPC3), which plays an important role in cell division and growth.
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Contact: Elizabeth Zimmermann
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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