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Scientists bring cancer cells back under control
Date:1/18/2011

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have brought cancer cells back under normal control by reactivating their cancer suppressor genes. The discovery could form a powerful new technology platform for the treatment of cancer of the breast and other cancers.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in about 1.4 million women throughout the world every year, with half a million dying from the disease. A common cause of cancer is when cells are altered or mutated and the body's tumour suppressor genes are switched off.

Research, published today in the Journal Molecular Cancer, reveals how Dr Cinzia Allegrucci from the School of Veterinary Science and Medicine and Dr Andrew Johnson in the Centre for Genetics and Genomics reactivated tumour suppressor genes and stopped the cancer from growing by treating them with Axolotl oocyte extract. After 60 days there was still no evidence of cancerous growth.

Cancers occur when the mechanisms that control normal cell division are mutated. The process of cell division is controlled by specific genes and these are turned "on" or "off" depending on their function. Among the most important of these genes are tumour suppressor genes. These genes repress the development of cancers and normally act as a control point in the cell division cycle. Therefore, the switching off of tumour suppressor genes is a common cause of cancers, including breast cancer.

Dr Allegrucci, a lecturer in molecular genetics and cell biology, said: "The on/off switch in genes is controlled by the modification of proteins that are bound to the DNA in a cell so called epigenetic modifications. Tumour suppressor genes in many breast cancers are switched off by epigenetic marks, which is the underlying cause of tumours. We sought to reverse this process, activating the tumour suppressor genes, in hope of stopping cancerous cell divisions."

Dr Johnson said: "To do this we used novel technology that makes use of th
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Contact: Lindsay Brooke
44-115-951-5751
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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