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Research gives hope to detecting cancer in early stages
Date:3/26/2012

Research from Queen Mary, University of London has uncovered the mechanism which causes normal cells to develop into cancer, giving hope in the fight against one of the UK's biggest killers*.

The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE today (26 March), investigated the role of the notorious cancer gene FOXM1.

Lead investigator Dr Muy-Teck Teh from Queen Mary, University of London, said the team found that the FOXM1 gene "brain washes" normal cells so they adopt a 'memory' pattern similar to cancer cells.

"This research has important clinical implications for early cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

"We knew the FOXM1 gene is present in almost all different types of human cancers so we wanted to understand how excessive levels of it cause normal cells to become cancer-like."

Dr Teh's team used a gene-chip microarray technology to investigate the DNA 'memory' patterns in cells.

Normal cells inherit specific instructions or 'memory' patterns by masking and unmasking parts of their DNA. Maintaining the correct memory patterns is important for normal cell function - disturbing the memory pattern can lead to cancer formation.

"We knew that excess expression of FOXM1 can lead to cancer but its underlying mechanism was not clear," Dr Teh explained.

"We looked at normal human mouth cells and introduced high levels of FOXM1. The normal cells changed to adopt a memory pattern similar to those in mouth cancer cells and we identified a number of key pattern changes that may be responsible for initiating cancer formation.

"These pattern changes may lead to the identification of biomarkers which could be developed into new diagnostic tests. We are currently working towards developing a practical diagnostic test for detecting mouth cancer at very early stages."

The team's research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Facial Surgery Research Foundation, Saving Fac
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Contact: Bridget Dempsey
b.dempsey@qmul.ac.uk
44-020-788-23004
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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