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Mayo Clinic researchers discover new form of cancer
Date:6/10/2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. June 10, 2014 This is the story of two perfectly harmless genes. By themselves, PAX3 and MAML3 don't cause any problems. However, when they combine during an abnormal but recurring chromosomal mismatch, they can be dangerous. The result is a chimera a gene that is half of each and that causes biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma. The tumor usually begins in the nose and may infiltrate the rest of the face, requiring disfiguring surgery to save the individual. Because Mayo Clinic pathology researchers have now described the molecular makeup of the rare tumor, several existing cancer drugs may be targeted against it. The findings appear in the current issue of Nature Genetics.

In 2004, Mayo Clinic pathologists Andre Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D., and Jean Lewis, M.D., first noticed something unusual about a tumor sample they were analyzing under the microscope. By 2009, they had seen the same pathology several times and had begun collecting data. In 2012, they and a team of Mayo collaborators published their discovery and defined a new class of tumor not previously described. Now, less than two years later, they are informing the medical community of the "nature of the beast" the genetic structure and molecular signature of this seldom-recognized type of cancer, which seems to strike women 75 percent of the time. It is rare, but how rare no one knows as most of the cases they examined were initially diagnosed as various other types of cancer. They were able to first identify and then characterize it because Mayo Clinic is considered one of the world's largest referral centers for sarcoma diagnosis and treatment.

"It's unusual that a condition or disease is recognized, subsequently studied in numerous patients, and then genetically characterized all at one place," says Dr. Oliveira, who subspecializes in the molecular genetics of sarcomas. "Usually these things happen over a longer period of time and involve separate investigators
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Contact: Robert Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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