Researchers in the university's Faculty of Science & Engineering studied a tiny strand of our genetic makeup known as a MicroRNA, involved in the regulation of gene expression. Cancer occurs when gene regulation goes haywire.
"Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease because it's hard to detect," says biology professor Chun Peng, who co-authored the study. By the time it's diagnosed, usually it is in its late stages. And by that point there's really no way to treat the disease. Even when the disease is discovered in its early stages, chemotherapy doesn't always work," she says.
Peng was among a team of researchers that discovered a receptor, ALK7, that induces cell-death in epithelial ovarian cancer cells. They have now discerned that microRNA 376c targets this crucial receptor, inhibiting its expression and allowing ovarian cancer cells to thrive.
"Our evidence suggests that microRNA 376c is crucial to determining how a patient will respond to a chemotherapeutic agent," says Peng. "It allows cancer cells to survive by targeting the very process that kills them off," she says.
In examining tumours taken from patients who were non-responsive to chemotherapy, researchers found a higher expression of microRNA 376c and a much lower expression of ALK7.
Peng believes that this research is a step towards being able to make chemotherapy drugs more effective in the treatment of the disease.
"Further study is needed, but ultimately if we can introduce anti-microRNAs that would lower the level of those microRNAs that make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs, we will be able to make chemotherapy more effective against ovarian cancer," Peng says.
She urges women to educate themselves about the risk factors and symptoms of the disease. For more information, visit http://www.ovariancanada.org .
Peng is a world expert in the area of ovarian cancer and the molecular basis of complications in pregnancy. Her research on chemo-resistance has also contributed to knowledge and prediction of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy disorder that is a leading cause of maternal and perinatal complications and death.
The article, "MicroRNA 376c enhances ovarian cancer cell survival by targeting activin receptor-like kinase 7: implications for chemoresistance," was published in the Journal of Cell Science.
The study's lead author, Gang Ye, is a Research Associate in Peng's lab. Several trainees in Peng's lab, as well as scientists in Toronto's Sunnybrook Research Institute and in China also participated in the project.
The research was supported by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and a mid-career award to Peng from the Ontario Women's Health Council/CIHR. Ye was supported in part by a Fellowship from the Toronto Ovarian Cancer Research Network.
York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada's most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York's 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.
Melissa Hughes, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22097, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Hughes | EurekAlert!
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research