A study by researchers Raúl Méndez, ICREA Research Professor at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and Pilar Navarro at the IMIM (Institut de Recerca Hospital del Mar, Barcelona) describes a new reprogramming mechanism for the expression of genes responsible for turning a healthy cell into a tumor cell. In the study, published in this week's edition of Nature Medicine, the scientists have identified the protein CPEB4 as a "cellular orchestra conductor" that "activates" hundreds of genes associated with tumor growth.
The image shows the formation of new blood vessels in tumorous tissue do to the presence of CEPB-4. Credit: IRB Barcelona / IMIM
Using experiments involving human cancer cells in mice, these researchers have demonstrated that the decrease in CPEB4 levels in cancer cells reduces the size of tumors by up to 80%. Although the study is limited to two kinds of tumor, according to the co-authors, "given the effects observed in the tumors examined and the type of genes regulated by this mechanism, it is expected to be involved in many other types of cancer".
This study opens up avenues for new treatments for cancer, for which the researchers are designing and analyzing CPEB4 inhibitors of potential therapeutic interest. "The clinical applications are very promising, although intensive research is needed to identify inhibitory molecules and to test them in various models before determining their clinical potential and, in this case, their use in patients", warn Navarro and Méndez.
The study involved Francisco X. Real, at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO) and Eduardo Eyras, ICREA researcher, both from the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), together with Mar Iglesias and Francesc Alameda from the Pathology Service at Hospital del Mar.Reference article:
Nature Medicine (2011) doi:10.1038/nm.2540
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