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Unexpected Link Between Cancer and Diabetes Revealed
Date:9/29/2011

molecules only as regulators of cell growth and cancer. But in these mice we discovered remarkable effects on sugar processing and diabetes."

Molecular studies showed that Lin28 and let-7 exert their influence on glucose control at multiple points along the evolutionarily ancient insulin signaling pathway. Components of this pathway, which manages growth and glucose metabolism at the cellular level, are also tied to the survival of multiple kinds of cancer.

"Cancer cells have a metabolism that is very embryo-like," Daley noted, "so we speculate that tumors take advantage of the Lin28/let-7 pathway to turn back the clock, in metabolic terms. It's a avenue we'll to study further."

To link their findings in mice to human metabolism, the researchers examined data on genetic variation found in patients with type 2 diabetes together with co-author David Altshuler of Harvard Medical School, a world authority on the genetics of diabetes. They found that many diabetes-associated genes were known or predicted let-7 targets.

"It can be difficult to link genetic association data to actual biochemical pathways in the cell," Daley explained. "Let-7 has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of gene targets. The genetic data, coupled to the striking similarities between the way our mice and patients with diabetes handle glucose argues that regulation by Lin28/let-7 is a unifying feature of many genes associated with diabetes."

The study was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Human Genome Research Institute; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology, and Research; the American Cancer Society; the American Diabetes Association; the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical c
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SOURCE Children's Hospital Boston
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