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Researchers identify role of gene in tumor development, growth and progression
Date:11/20/2009

RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 20, 2009) Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine researchers have identified a gene that may play a pivotal role in two processes that are essential for tumor development, growth and progression to metastasis. Scientists hope the finding could lead to an effective therapy to target and inhibit the expression of this gene resulting in inhibition of cancer growth.

According to Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, director of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine in the VCU School of Medicine, and program leader of Cancer Molecular Genetics at the Massey Cancer Center, the team has shown that astrocyte elevated gene-1, AEG-1, a cancer promoting gene, is involved in both oncogenic transformation, which is the conversion of a normal cell to a cancer cell, and angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood cells. Oncogenic transformation and angiogenesis are critical for tumor development, growth and progression to metastasis.

In the study published online the week of Nov. 16 in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers employing a series of molecular studies reported that the elevated expression of AEG-1 is involved with turning normal cells into cancer cells.

According to Fisher, when AEG-1 was expressed in normal immortal rat embryo fibroblast cells it converted these cells into transformed cells that induced rapidly growing aggressive cancers when injected into animals. AEG-1 expressing cells displayed enhanced expression of genes regulating blood vessel formation, thereby contributing to tumorigenicity. The team has further defined the pathways in target cells that are activated by AEG-1 and mediate its oncogenic and angiogenic inducing properties.

"Our goal is to understand the functions of a novel gene AEG-1 that plays an e
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Contact: Sathya Achia Abraham
sbachia@vcu.edu
804-827-0890
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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