Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Loss of Tumor Supressor Gene Essential in Transforming Benign Nerve Tumors into Cancers

14.10.2009
Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center showed for the first time that the loss or decreased expression of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN plays a central role in the malignant transformation of benign nerve tumors called neurofibromas into a malignant and extremely deadly form of sarcoma.

The work, a collaboration between the Institute for Molecular Medicine, the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and the cancer center’s Sarcoma Program, could lead to the development of new therapies that target the cell signaling pathway regulated by PTEN.

A novel mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) developed at UCLA first illustrated the importance of PTEN tumor suppressor in malignant transformation and this finding was validated in human malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, the deadly sarcomas.

The study will be published this week in the early online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The loss of expression of PTEN in the human sarcomas we studied mirrored the loss of PTEN in mice, and we anticipate being able to target this pathway abnormality for the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment” said Dr. Fritz Eilber, director of the Sarcoma Program and an assistant professor of surgical oncology. “Within the sarcoma world, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors are one of the most lethal sub-types, so this is a significant finding and may lead to new and more effective treatments.”

NF1 is one of the most common genetically inherited disorders, with an incidence of about 1 in every 2,500 births, said, Dr. Hong Wu, associate director of the molecular medicine institute, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and senior author of the study.

“Patients with NF1 have an about 10 percent lifetime risk of developing this lethal sarcoma sub-type,” Wu said.

The study also showed that Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning with the glucose analogue FDG - both in the mice and in humans - is a highly accurate way to distinguish between the benign tumors and the malignant ones, indicating that this non-invasive imaging technology is valuable in assessing therapeutic response to new treatments.

Wu created the mouse model with two of her graduate students, Caroline Gregorian and Jonathan Nakashima, co-first authors of this paper. It was created by altering two cell signaling pathways that are commonly activated in peripheral and central nervous system cancers, the RAS/RAF/MAPK & PTEN/P13K/AKT pathways, known to regulate cell proliferation, survival and differentiation.

“When we began to generate mouse models to mimic different human cancers, we usually did gene-based analysis to see the relevance of a specific gene in the development of the cancer,” Wu said. “But we realize that sometimes targeting the cell signaling pathways that organize and instruct cells to function, both for normal functions of our body and also in abnormal ways in disease, are more important and informative than the individual gene”

The mouse model developed benign neurofibromas, but then progressed to the deadly sub-type of sarcoma. The neurofibromas had half the normal levels of PTEN and the sarcomas had a complete loss of PTEN. Since PTEN is an important factor in suppressing cells from becoming malignant, this could provide an explanation for the sequence of the normal cells transforming into benign neurofibromas that could then transform into cancer.

Wondering if this was also the case in people, Dr. Wu collaborated with Eilber and pathologist Dr. Sarah Dry, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine’s Pathway Pathology Center, and a multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists to determine if people with this sarcoma sub-type also had little or no PTEN.

“This type of collaboration is the hallmark of the work at the Jonsson Cancer Center and molecular medicine institute - translating discoveries in a basic science lab into discoveries in patients,” Wu said.

Currently, there are no effective treatments to prevent the benign NF1 tumors from transforming into cancer. The genetically engineered mouse model will be used to screen drugs that may be able to target the signaling pathway regulated by PTEN, to block signals that instruct the cells to change from a benign state to a malignant one, providing treatment options for patients with the deadly form of cancer.

“I think these findings will help us provide a better diagnosis that can determine if the neurofibroma is becoming a malignant tumor or not,” Eilber said. “But more importantly, the loss of the PTEN and its associated signaling pathways gives us targets for therapy and it may lay the foundation for treatment in other sarcomas as well.”

Also involved in the research were Dr. Paul Mischel, Dr. Simin Liu, Dr. Phioanh Leia Nghiemphu, Dr. Greg Lawson, Dr. Michael Sofroniew and Dr. Michael Phelps, director of the molecular medicine institute and creator of the PET scanner

The study was funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society, the Brain Tumor Society, the Henry Singleton Brain Cancer Research Program and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2009, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 12 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 10 consecutive years.

Kim Irwin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cancer.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Show me your leaves - Health check for urban trees
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
12.12.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>