Researchers at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) have identified a gene that contributes to the development of several childhood cancers, in a study conducted with mice designed to model the cancers. If the findings prove to be applicable to humans, the research could lead to new strategies for targeting certain childhood cancers at a molecular level. The study was published today in the journal Cancer Cell.
“We and others have found that Lin28b – a gene that is normally turned on in fetal but not adult tissues – is expressed in several childhood cancers, including neuroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor and hepatoblastoma, a type of cancer that accounts for nearly 80 percent of all liver tumors in children,” said Dr. Hao Zhu, a principal investigator at CRI, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
This is Dr. Hao Zhu.
Credit: UT Southwestern
“In our study, we found that overproduction of Lin28b specifically causes hepatoblastoma, while blocking Lin28b impairs the cancer’s growth. This opens up the possibility that pediatric liver cancer patients could one day be treated without resorting to chemotherapy.”
Lin28b is an attractive therapeutic target in cancer because it is ordinarily only expressed in embryos, so blocking it in children should specifically hinder cancer growth without introducing many side effects.
Each year in the United States, 700 children are newly diagnosed with neuroblastoma, 500 with Wilms’ tumor and 100 with hepatoblastoma. At Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, more than 100 children have been treated for those three types of cancers over the last two years.
Previous studies found that Lin28b is a critical factor in stem cell and fetal tissue development, leading Dr. Zhu and his team to hypothesize that the same gene would play a significant role in the development of certain cancers.
“We looked at Lin28b in a multitude of ways in mice to study its effects on cancer, from increasing it significantly to deleting it,” said Dr. Zhu, co-senior author of the paper. “From this and earlier studies, it appears that Lin28b activates the metabolic pathways that provide the building blocks of growth for certain cancers.”
The next step for the Zhu lab is to establish whether genes related to Lin28b have similar effects on the development of cancer, and to determine if those genes might be more effective targets for potential therapies.
Dr. George Daley, Professor of Hematology at Children’s Hospital Boston, is co-senior author of the paper. The work in the Zhu lab was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and donors to the Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is a joint venture established in 2011 to build upon the comprehensive clinical expertise of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and the internationally recognized scientific excellence of UT Southwestern Medical Center. CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological basis of disease, seeking breakthroughs that can change scientific fields and yield new strategies for treating disease. Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is creating interdisciplinary groups of exceptional scientists and physicians to pursue research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology and metabolism, fields that hold uncommon potential for advancing science and medicine. More information about CRI is available on its website: cri.utsw.edu
Randy Sachs | Eurek Alert!
How molecules teeter in a laser field
18.01.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin
Discovery of enhanced bone growth could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis
18.01.2019 | University of California - Los Angeles
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2019 | Life Sciences
18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine