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Scientists identify a novel mechanism for evolution of highly aggressive cancers
Date:6/27/2011

model to explain a subset of particularly aggressive cancers for which modern medicine does not have therapeutic options".

Another author of the work, Dr Ho Khek Yu, an endoscopic surgeon specializing in Barrett's esophagus and Head of the Department of Medicine at National University of Singapore, added "Recent efforts to prevent the formation of esophageal cancer by removing the cells forming Barrett's esophagus before they turn cancerous have met with considerable setbacks. The study suggests a new way to prevent esophageal cancers: target these embryonic cells before they can form Barrett's esophagus. If the method is successful, we will have eradicated one major risk factor of esophageal cancer."

Corresponding author Dr Frank McKeon of the GIS and Harvard Medical School said, "we now have a great deal of information about these unusual embryonic cells that give rise to Barrett's esophagus and are working with clinicians to develop novel monoclonal antibodies to eliminate these cells before they become malignant. This type of preventive therapy directed at the precursors of these cancers is the rational approach to stamping out the disease, which has risen five-fold in the last 30 years."

Dr Yusuke Yamamoto, a senior postdoctoral fellow at the GIS, expert in bioinformatics and stem cell biology, and co-first author of the publication, noted, "I am continually amazed by the speed with which mouse genetic models, bioinformatics, and stem cell biology come together in Singapore to provide such a vivid image of disease processes and identify genes that represent the most important prevention and therapeutic targets".

Profs Barbara Knowles and Davor Solter, Senior Principal Investigators of the Mammalian Development Laboratory at the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore commented, "An excellent piece of scientific sleuthing with a tantalizing approach to cancer prevention".

Prof Lee Eng Hin, Executive Director of
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Contact: Winnie Serah Lim
limcp2@gis.a-star.edu.sg
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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