From thousands of genes to a single compelling new target
It started several years ago with the observation that a large group of seemingly unconnected genes were behaving differently in patients with stomach cancer. Now a multi-national research team led by the Melbourne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) has joined the proverbial dots and identified a potential new target for stomach cancer therapy, according to a paper published today in the prestigious Nature Medicine journal.
The papers first author, LICRs Dr. Brendan Jenkins, says that this single study has made several substantial contributions to the understanding of Stat3, the protein linking those genes behaving badly and central to development, tissue equilibrium and the immune system. "We showed that, in mice, hyperactive Stat3 shuts down a vital controller of stomach cell growth, called TGF beta, and this allows cancer formation, and this mechanistic link is a world-first. Also, the gene differences identified in human stomach cancers are similar to those we would predict if the same thing, Stat3 hyperactivity shutting down TGF, happens in humans. So this is also the first time a connection between stomach cancer and this signaling pathway has been made."
Sarah L. White, Ph.D. | EurekAlert!
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