Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover a molecular 'switch' in cancers of the testis and ovary

01.08.2013
Research could lead to new drugs to turn 'switch' off

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
Tel: direct, +44 (0) 1223 765542, +44 (0) 1223 332300
Mob: +44 (0) 7774 017464
Email: Genevieve.maul@admin.cam.ac.uk
Notes to editors:
The paper 'LIN28 expression in malignant germ cell tumors down-regulates let-7 and increases oncogene levels' on 01 August 2013 edition of Cancer Research.

Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cam.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>