This "transcriptional regulator" is called CTIP2, and in recent research has been demonstrated to be a master regulator that has important roles in many biological functions, ranging from the proper development of enamel on teeth to skin formation and the possible treatment of eczema or psoriasis.
In the newest study, published today in PLoS ONE, a professional journal, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the "poorly differentiated" tumor cells that caused the most deadly types of squamous cell carcinomas in the larynx, throat, tongue and other parts of the head. There was a high correlation between greater CTIP2 expression and the aggressive nature of the cancer.
Head and neck squamous cell cancers are the sixth most common cancers in the world, the researchers said in their study, and a significant cause of mortality. In 2008, cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx alone accounted for 35,310 new cases in the United States and 7,590 deaths. They have been linked to such things as tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
"Serious head and throat cancer is pretty common, and mortality rates from it haven't improved much in 20 years, despite new types of treatments," said Gitali Indra, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "With these new findings, we believe it should be possible to create an early screening and diagnostic tool to spot these cancers earlier, tell physicians which ones need the most aggressive treatments and which are most apt to recur."
It's also possible the work may lead to new therapeutic approaches, researchers say.
"It's not completely clear yet whether the higher levels of CTIP2 expression are a consequence of cancer, or part of the cause," said Arup Indra, also an OSU assistant professor of pharmacy. "However, we strongly suspect that it's causally related. If that's true, then therapies that could block production of CTIP2 may provide a new therapeutic approach to this type of cancer."
That this genetic regulator could be involved in both skin development and these types of cancer makes some sense, the scientists said – both originate from epithelial cells.
It's also possible, the study found, that CTIP2 works to help regulate the growth of what is believed to be a cancer "stem" or "progenitor" cell, which has a greater potential to generate tumors through the stem cell processes of self-renewal and differentiation into multiple cell types. Therefore, targeting cancer stem cells holds promise for improvement of survival and quality of life of cancer patients.
This research was partly supported by a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The work was done in collaboration with researchers in the Cancer Institute in Strasbourg, France.
Editor's Note: A digital image is available to illustrate this story. The figure in "A" shows a very low level of CTIP2 expression in normal human epithelia, while "B" shows a significant increase in expression in aggressive head and neck cancer: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/photos/hnscc.JPG
Gitali Indra | EurekAlert!
Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine