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Researchers identify and shut down protein that fuels ovarian cancer
Date:2/26/2008

HOUSTON - A protein that stimulates blood vessel growth worsens ovarian cancer, but its production can be stifled by a tiny bit of RNA wrapped in a fatty nanoparticle, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"The protein interleukin-8 (IL-8) is a potential therapeutic target in ovarian cancer," said senior author Anil Sood, M.D., professor in the M. D. Anderson Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology.

The paper demonstrates that high IL-8 expression in tumors is associated with advanced tumor stage and earlier death for ovarian cancer patients. Lab experiments and research in a mouse model show that short interfering RNA (siRNA) can cut IL-8 expression, reducing tumor size by attacking its blood supply.

"This comprehensive analysis - with human data, animal data and lab experiments to highlight the molecular mechanisms involved - helps us develop the new targets needed for a more effective approach against ovarian cancer," Sood said.

Interleukin-8 is overexpressed in many types of cancer and has previously been shown to promote tumor growth, new blood vessel growth known as angiogenesis, and metastasis, the spread of cancer to other organs. "In the long run, this research will have applications in other cancers as well," Sood said.

His research focuses on ovarian cancer, for example, while senior co-author Menashe Bar-Eli, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Cancer Biology, examines IL-8's role in melanoma.

Impact on survival

Ovarian cancer is often detected in late stages. Initial treatment includes surgery and taxane- or platinum-based chemotherapy regimens that keep the cancer at bay for a time in most patients. Recurrence is common and often lethal.

To examine IL-8's role in ovarian cancer, the researchers analyzed tumors from 102 pati
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Contact: Scott Merville
sdmervil@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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