The prevalent theory has been that genetic changes in tumour cells come about in multiple stages over a long time. However, a recent study by researchers at Lund University shows that this does not have to be the case at all, but that the cancer cells instead can be subject to several major chromosomal changes at the same time.
The results are presented in the scientific journal PNAS. Behind the study are researcher and doctor David Gisselsson Nord and colleagues in his research group.
“We have long known that changes in the genetic make-up of body cells play a part in the development of tumours. However, we don’t know a lot about how the genetic changes in the tumour cells actually come about. Above all, it has been difficult to understand why many tumour cells contain extra copies of one or more chromosomes, despite the fact that this is the most common type of chromosome abnormality in cancer cells”, says David Gisselsson Nord.
The research group’s findings mean new and important knowledge of how such chromosome damage can arise. By filming cancer cells as they grow over a long period of time, they discovered that tumour cells can undergo a special form of division. Normal cells divide in two opposite directions and we already know that tumour cells sometimes divide towards three poles.
“We were even more surprised to see that two of the three poles often fused together to form one daughter cell. This daughter cell thus got extra copies of one or more chromosomes. When we continued to film the cells it emerged that they could continue to divide and they thus gave rise to new cancer cells with a chromosome set that was different from the original cell”, says David Gisselsson Nord.
“These major, simultaneous chromosome changes could explain why tumours in young children, which have not had very long to grow, can demonstrate comprehensive changes in genetic make-up”, he says.
The study, which has been carried out in close collaboration with the newly started Lund company PHI AB, was performed on cells from a type of cancer known as Wilms’ tumour – a disease that generally affects children of pre-school age.
It has not been possible to carry out a study of this type until now because it has previously been difficult to film living cells in detail over a long time without exposing the cells to harmful fluorescent light. As an alternative, the researchers in this study used digital holographic microscopy, a novel technique by which cells are exposed only to weak laser light for very limited time periods.
Both the research group in Lund and other groups have previously shown that a high proportion of abnormal cell divisions of the type that they have now studied are linked to a higher risk of children with Wilms’ tumour dying of the disease.
“Now we can more easily understand why this is the case, because it is believed that an accumulation of cells with mutually different genetic make-up within a tumour means that they respond less well to chemotherapy. But this is still only a theory”, says David Gisselsson Nord.
It is hoped that this type of cell division can be used in some way as a target for cancer treatment, but the research is complicated and a lot of work remains to be done.
“At the moment, the most important thing is to wait for our findings to be confirmed by other studies”, says David Gisselsson Nord.David Gisselsson Nord, Reader in Clinical Genetics, tel. +46 (0)733 91 40 36,
Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München
Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
22.02.2017 | Life Sciences
22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy