The caspase-8 gene plays a critical role in suppressing metastasis (spread) of neuroblastoma, and the expression of this gene is frequently absent in cancer cells that are aggressively metastasizing, according to investigators at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Neuroblastoma is a tumor of the nervous system and is the most common tumor in infants younger than 1 year of age; it accounts for 7-10 percent of childhood cancers.
In the absence of caspase-8 protein, the cell is significantly more capable of escaping from the primary tumor and spreading to other sites in the body, the researchers said. The investigators also showed in laboratory studies that restoring the expression of the caspase-8 gene suppressed neuroblastoma metastases.
The studys findings are significant because they suggest that novel treatments that restore the tumor-suppression role of the caspase-8 gene might prevent the spread of neuroblastoma and improve patient outcome, according to Jill M. Lahti, PhD, an associate member of the Department of Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology. Lahti and David Cheresh, Ph.D., (UCSD) are senior authors of a report on these findings that appears in the January 5 issue of the journal Nature.
Kelly Pery | EurekAlert!
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