Thanks to imaging and analysis techniques used by researchers at TU Delft, an international group of scientists has been able to gain more insight into the behaviour of cancerous cells. Delft researchers were the first to establish the changing positions of the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) in cells. It has been discovered that these telomeres behave differently in cancerous cells. An online article on this phenomenon has been published in the important American scientific journal PNAS.
According to Delft researcher Dr. Yuval Garini, the research focused on the structure and organisation of genetic material in the cores of cells, and how this changes in cancerous cells. In these experiments, a specific gene in a cell was disrupted, causing it to become cancerous. The behaviour of the chromosomes in the cell, more specifically the extremities of the chromosomes, called telomeres, were then studied. Previous research had already shown the scientists that, in healthy cells, these telomeres are organised in a well defined structure, which changes during the cell cycle.
The most recent research has shown that this organisation is disrupted in cancerous cells: the telomeres tangle together after cell division. The participating researchers from Delft, but also Canada, Germany en France, have seen how telomeres, and thus chromosomes get tangles in cancerous cells. At each next cell division, these chromosomes break off at random positions. As the open ends of the broken chromosomes are not protected, they look for other chromosomes to join with. The result is undesired combinations of chromosomes.
Maarten van der Sanden | alfa
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