Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic testing could bolster radiotherapy’s effectiveness against cancer

06.04.2005


Obtaining a genetic picture of how a tumor will react to the many treatment techniques available could help doctors prescribe therapies customized for individual cancer patients’ needs, suggests a Purdue University research team.



A group of scientists including Jian-Jian "J.J." Li has found a trio of proteins often present in cancer cells that protect the tumor from destruction by radiotherapy. Because no single protein in the group is responsible for keeping the cancer alive, Li said that the key to a successful assault could rest in a deeper understanding of the relationship among these protein molecules – an understanding that could be made available through genetic testing.

"We have discovered that breast cancer cells defend themselves on the molecular level against radiation, and this response could be reducing the effectiveness of modern medicine’s fight against cancer," said Li, who is an associate professor of health sciences in Purdue’s School of Health Sciences. "Because these three proteins interact in ways peculiar to each tumor, it might help doctors to first obtain the ’genetic fingerprint’ of cancerous tissue in order to find out which treatment method will be most effective."


The research appears in this week’s issue of the Journal of Biochemistry. Li’s co-authors include researchers from the City of Hope National Medical Center, Bio-Rad Laboratories and the National Institutes of Health.

All living cells are kept alive through the efforts of thousands of different proteins, each of which may have many different and interrelated functions. Proteins are brought into action, or "expressed," by genes in the cell’s DNA when certain needs arise – such as reproduction or metabolizing energy. Three such proteins found in most human cells have been the focus of Li’s research for several years, each of which is commonly known to scientists by a technical name: ERK, NF-kappa B and GADD45 beta. "In healthy cells, these three proteins all play a role in building new cellular structures, allowing the body to grow and regenerate," Li said. "Each has individual functions that are well known. NF-kappa B and ERK, for example, work as construction managers that tell the genes where more building blocks are needed and how they should be arranged, while GADD45 beta helps repair damage to DNA. This helps keep a cell from mutating as it grows."

NF-kappa B beta is known to be present in abnormally high amounts in tumors. However, scientists also have noticed that after the NF-kappa B has been inhibited, the cancer cells are less responsive to radiotherapy. Apparently, Li said, the presence of the protein keeps tumor cells alive despite receiving a punishing amount of radiation that ordinarily would kill them. "Previous research has also implicated NF-kappa B in this type of radioresistance to cancer," Li said. "No one really knew what was happening. But the issue needed resolution because, once again, we were confronting the standard dilemma in cancer treatment: How do you destroy the cancer without damaging the surrounding healthy cells?"

Li’s group found that it was not just one of these proteins that was fighting hard to save the cells – it was all three. After subjecting breast cancer cells in the lab to the stress of ionizing radiation, the group found that the proteins all are co-activated in a pattern of mutual dependence, coordinating among themselves to increase cell survival rate. "The essence of our discovery can expressed rather simply," Li said. "Genes in the body do not operate in isolation, but as a team. This is the sort of lesson we will probably learn again and again as the recently decoded human genome reveals more of its secrets."

Indeed, it could be in the genome that a solution to the dilemma will be found, Li said. "If we can test cancer cells not for just three proteins but for thousands, the ’genetic fingerprint’ such a test would provide might help us to devise better therapies to kill tumors," he said. "Knowing in general that proteins A, B and C are defending the cell may allow us to administer drugs that block them, which could allow us to irradiate the now-defenseless cancer with lower radiation levels. This would be simultaneously more effective against the cancer and less harmful to the patient in general."

In the case of breast cancer cells, the proteins in question are ERK, NF-kappa B and GADD45 beta. But Li said that this was probably the first of many discoveries that relate proteins to one another in such a fashion. "These three proteins are most likely the tip of the iceberg," Li said. "This discovery is all about interaction, which goes beyond any one protein or gene expression. People used to think NF-kappa B was just a gene regulator. Now we realize it could be part of a signaling network that decides the pattern of gene expression – a pattern that remains mysterious."

This research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute and the Department of Energy.

Li is associated with the Purdue Cancer Center. One of just eight National Cancer Institute-designated basic-research facilities in the United States, the center attempts to help cancer patients by identifying new molecular targets and designing future agents and drugs for effectively detecting and treating cancer.

Writer: Chad Boutin, (765) 494-2081, cboutin@purdue.edu

Source: Jian-Jian Li, jjli@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>