Researchers who are now at Georgetown Universitys Lombardi Cancer Center have identified a gene that promotes metastases, the spread of cancer cells through the body. This new understanding of how cancer metastasizes, linking a gene product and migration of cancer cells, may lead to therapies to stop this spread. The results of the study are published in the May 2003 issue of the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. An advance copy of the paper can be viewed after the embargo is lifted at http://www.molbiolcell.org/in_press.shtml
Richard G. Pestell, M.D., Ph.D. and his research team have been studying the cyclin D1 gene and the protein it produces for the past decade. Now they have found that by "knocking out" this gene, the migration of cells can be halted. The migration of cancer cells through the body is a major reason why cancer is deadly.
"Patients who do not survive their cancer, often dont die from their primary cancer, usually they die from the spread of the disease through the body. If we can understand what causes the metastasis, then we can pinpoint new targets to block the spread of disease," said Dr. Pestell, director of the Lombardi Cancer Center, chairman of Georgetowns Department of Oncology and Charlotte Gragnani professor of oncology. "Since cancerous -- but not normal epithelial cells -- migrate, therapy targeted to cell migration would be more selective. Killing only migrating cancer cells is thus less toxic, producing fewer side effects, than current chemotherapy which targets dividing cells of all types."
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