What began as research into how diabetics could possibly preserve their eyesight has led to findings that could prolong the vision of children afflicted with retinoblastoma.
Dolores Takemoto, a Kansas State University professor of biochemistry who was researching protein kinase C gamma in the lens of the human eye, found her work taking a fascinating turn when she discovered a correlation between the protein Coonexin46 and hypoxia -- a deficiency of oxygen which kills normal tissue cells.
According to the data, Coonexin46, or Cx46, appears in the body during these levels of low oxygen. Besides the eye, which is one of the body's only naturally occurring hypoxic tissue, Cx46 also is present in cancer cells since the cells seal themselves off from the oxygen carried by the blood vessels, thus creating a hypoxic environment.
Takemoto believes the findings will lead to serious advancements in treating retinoblastoma, a cancer that forms in the tissue of the retina -- the light-sensitive layers of nerve tissue on the back of the eye. It occurs in 300 U.S. children under the age of 5 each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
"When a child comes in with retinoblastoma in one eye it's usually too late in the process to save that eye, and, it will spread to the other eye," Takemoto said.
Once an eye becomes cancerous, it has to be removed to prevent the tumor from spreading. Too often, though, Takemoto said, by the time the tumor is noticed in one eye, it has already spread to the second, resulting in a child being permanently blind.
Through her research, Takemoto believes a siRNA medication can be invented which can be injected monthly into the noncancerous eye, preventing tumor growth. siRNA, or small interfering ribonucleic acid, is a class of double-stranded RNA molecules that can be used to interfere with the expression of a specific gene. In this case, the siRNA would suppress Cx46, which allows a tumor to exist in a hypoxic environment. In this manner, the tumor can be prevented from growing at the early hypoxic stage.
Using a mouse model for retinoblastoma, the Takemoto lab has found that use of siRNA to lower the levels of Cx46 will prevent tumor formation.
An international application has been filed with the Patent Cooperation Treaty regarding the findings.
During her trials with Cx46, Takemoto collaborated with Thu Annelise Nguyen, associate professor of toxicology at K-State. The two examined biopsies of MCF-7 breast cancer, where they also found Cx46 present. Takemoto said the same was true for samples of colon cancer.
"Any time there's a drop in oxygen within the body, Cx46 appears," Takemoto said.
While Takemoto's research into Cx46 is focused on the eye, Nguyen is studying Cx46 in breast cancer. She is currently exploring drug discovery and drug testing related to breast cancer.
Besides treating tumors, Takemoto said she believes these findings could help with treatment in acute or chronic heart disease, heart attacks, retinal ischemia, ischemia of the brain, blood pressure problems and glaucoma, as well as for health applications in animals.
Findings have been published in an online edition of the International Journal of Cancer, "A novel role of gap junction connexin46 protein to protect breast tumors from hypoxia." Publication in a printed edition will follow.
Takemoto has recently been named a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. She will present her data in May at an association conference, where hers will be one of the highlighted talks.
Takemoto's research was made possible by a grant of more than $366,000 from the National Eye Institute in fall 2009.
Dolores Takemoto | EurekAlert!
Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University
When fish swim in the holodeck
22.08.2017 | University of Vienna
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences