Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strategy Discovered to Activate Genes that Suppress Tumors and Inhibit Cancer

22.05.2012
A team of scientists has developed a promising new strategy for "reactivating" genes that cause cancer tumors to shrink and die.
The researchers hope that their discovery will aid in the development of an innovative anti-cancer drug that effectively targets unhealthy, cancerous tissue without damaging healthy, non-cancerous tissue and vital organs. The research will be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The team, led by Yanming Wang, a Penn State University associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and Gong Chen, a Penn State assistant professor of chemistry, developed the new strategy after years of earlier research on a gene called PAD4 (peptidylarginine deiminase 4), which produces the PAD4 enzyme. Previous research by Wang and other scientists revealed that the PAD4 enzyme plays an important role in protecting the body from infection. The scientists compared normal mice with a functioning PAD4 gene to other mice that had a defective a PAD4 gene. When infected with bacteria, cells from the normal mice attacked and killed about 30 percent of the harmful bacteria, while cells from the defective mice battled a mere 10 percent. The researchers discovered that cells with a functioning PAD4 enzyme are able to build around themselves a protective, bacteria-killing web that Wang and his colleagues dubbed a NET (neutrophil extracellular trap). This NET is especially effective at fighting off flesh-eating bacteria.

Now, in their new study, Wang and his collaborators have focused on the less-desirable effects of the same PAD4 gene. While PAD4 is clearly a critical part of the body's defense strategy, the gene's over-expression may be linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. One situation in which the PAD4 enzyme is markedly increased is in patients with certain cancers, such as breast, lung, and bone cancers. "We know that the PAD4 gene acts to silence tumor-suppressor genes," said Wang. "So we theorized that by inhibiting the enzyme that this gene produces, the 'good guys' -- the tumor-suppressor genes -- would do a better job at destroying cancerous tissue and allowing the body to heal."

To test their theory, Wang and his colleagues treated mice that had cancerous tumors with a molecule to inhibit the PAD4 enzyme. They found that, especially when combined with additional enzyme inhibitors, the treatment worked as effectively as the most-commonly-used chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, which shrinks tumors by about 70 percent.

Most striking, however, was that the PAD4 enzyme-inhibition strategy caused significantly less damage to healthy tissues. "Current chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin don't attack just tumors; unfortunately, they also attack healthy areas of the body," Wang explained. "That's why chemotherapy patients experience such terrible side effects such as weight loss, nausea, and hair loss. Because the PAD4 treatment appears to be less toxic, it could be an excellent alternative to current chemotherapy treatments."

Wang also explained that the PAD4 gene's dual personality -- on the one hand a helpful defense against bacteria, while on the other, a harmful silencer of cancer-suppressor genes -- can be understood from the perspectives of evolution and longer life spans. "Our ancestors didn't have antibiotics, so a bacterial infection could easily result in death, especially in young children," Wang explained. "So, back then, an overactive PAD4 gene was advantageous because the NET bacteria-trapping mechanism was the body's major defense against infection." Wang also explained that on the other hand, because people today have access to antibiotics, we live much longer than our ancestors did. "PAD4's bad effects -- cancer and autoimmune diseases -- tend to be illnesses that appear later in life," Wang said. "So nowadays, an overactive PAD4 gene, while still protective against bacteria, can be detrimental later in life."

This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and a Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Grant Award to Wang and Chen. In addition to Wang and Chen, other researchers who contributed to this project include Yuji Wang, Pingxin Li, Shu Wang, Jing Hu, Megan Fisher, Kira Oshaben, Jianhui Wu, Na Zhao, and Ying Gu of Penn State's Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

[ Katrina Voss ]

CONTACTS
Yanming Wang: 814-865-3775 (after 7 June 2012), 8610-8257-6051 (China, before 7 June 2012), yuw12@psu.edu
Gong Chen: (+1) 814-867-2590, guc11@psu.edu
Barbara Kennedy (PIO): 814-863-4682, science@psu.edu

Barbara Kennedy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>