It has long been known that Down Syndrome is caused when an individual has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, giving them a total of three instead of the normal chromosome pair. With improved medical care, people with Down Syndrome are now living longer, healthier lives. With this advance came the observation that individuals with Down Syndrome have a significant decrease in risk for several types of tumors. Most striking is the observation that women with Down Syndrome are 10-25 times less likely to develop breast cancer.
This effect is thought to be due to the presence of one or more “tumor suppressor” genes on chromosome 21. However, the identity of such genes has not been known, until now.
“Years of research into the genetics of Down Syndrome have helped us to discover a very important gene on chromosome 21,” said Dr. Weston Porter, associate professor in the Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Department. “This gene, called Single-minded 2 or SIM2 is thought to play an important role in Down Syndrome by regulating neuron growth in the developing brain. Based on its developmental role, we hypothesized that SIM2 may also be involved in breast cancer, which is essentially a disease of uncontrolled growth.”
For the last five years, Porter and his colleagues, Richard Metz, Brian Laffin and Elizabeth Wellberg, have been using human breast cells and mouse models as part of a research grant from the National Institutes of Health to validate this hypothesis, and what they have found they consider very promising. SIM2 is lost or suppressed in a majority of human breast tumors, and deletion of the SIM2 gene triggers rapid tumor growth in mice.
However, the process by which SIM2 suppresses breast cancer is complex and not fully understood. This same protein which may hold so much promise for breast cancer treatment is also thought to contribute to the negative effects of Down Syndrome.
“As we move forward,” said Porter, “it will be important for us to understand the circuit of SIM2 and how it is turned on and off. In light of the available data on breast cancer incidence in the Down Syndrome population and our experimental data, knowing how to turn SIM2 expression on and off and identification of down-stream targets should have great therapeutic value.”
While still in the early stages, this research represents a promising weapon in the fight against breast cancer as it sheds light on a previously unknown target for which to shoot.
“What we are seeing now is a paradigm shift in breast cancer research” said Porter. “For years we have gone after the wrong kinds of cells. It was all about getting rid of the tumor itself. This has led to a dandelion effect where, we didn’t get to the root and the cancers kept coming back and spreading. Now we’re looking at ways to get to the root of breast cancer, and not simply shrinking the tumor to come back another day.”
While it may be years before their research results in a definitive treatment or cure, Weston says it is impacting our approach towards understanding breast cancer today.
Keith Randall | EurekAlert!
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences