Cambridge scientists have identified an 'on/off' switch in a type of cancer which typically occurs in the testes and ovaries called 'malignant germ cell tumours'. The research was published today, 01 August, in the journal Cancer Research.
Malignant germ cell tumours arise in sperm- or egg-forming cells and usually occur in the reproductive organs, the testes or ovaries. The cancerous tumours are seen in patients of all ages, both in childhood and adulthood.
Although many patients do well after treatment, current chemotherapy treatments can have severe long-term side effects, including hearing loss and damage to the kidneys, lungs and bone marrow. For some patients, outcomes remain poor and testicular cancer continues to be a leading cause of death in young men.
The scientists found that all malignant germ cell tumours contain large amounts of a protein called LIN28. This results in too little of a family of tiny regulator molecules called let-7. In turn, low levels of let-7 cause too much of numerous cancer-promoting proteins in cells. Importantly, the cancer-promoting proteins include LIN28 itself, so there is a vicious cycle that acts as an 'on' switch to promote malignancy. The researchers have likened these changes to a 'cascade effect', extending down from the large amounts of LIN28 to affect many properties of the cancer cells.
The researchers also discovered that by reducing amounts of the protein LIN28, or by directly increasing amounts of let-7, it is possible to reverse the vicious cycle. Both ways reduced levels of the cancer-promoting proteins and inhibited cell growth. Because the level of LIN28 itself goes down, the effects are reinforced and act as an 'off' switch to reduce cancerous behaviour.
Prof Nick Coleman, Professor of Molecular Pathology, Cambridge University said: "We need new ways of treating patients with malignant germ cell tumours, to minimise the toxic effects of chemotherapy and to improve survival rates when tumours are resistant to treatment. Having identified this 'on/off' switch, it will now be important to identify new drugs that can be used to keep it in the 'off' position."
Dr Matthew Murray, Academic Consultant in Paediatric Oncology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge said: "The switch effect that we have discovered is present in all malignant germ cell tumours, whether they occur in males or females, young or old. Such a fundamental abnormality makes an excellent new target for treating these tumours."
Susanne Owers, Director of Fundraising at Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, which funded this research, said: "We are delighted to have supported this study, which has identified a key protein that triggers this type of cancer. ACT funds clinical academic researchers, like Dr Murray and Prof Coleman, because they are perfectly positioned to understand the clinical problems, working closely with patients, an insight not available to all researchers. Studies like this have the potential to make a tangible difference to patients, by identifying targets for the development of new drugs which may improve survival and have less side-effects compared with standard chemotherapy treatments. By funding this research, ACT – with the help of our supporters – can make a powerful contribution, enabling ground breaking research to be performed."
For additional information please contact:Genevieve Maul, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge
Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Information Technology