Using cancerous and non-cancerous tissue straight from the operating room, Bowen and fellow OCI researchers are engaged in investigating the molecular profile of ovarian cancer tissue in order to discover the causes of ovarian cancer, develop a reliable diagnostic blood test and understand the genetic basis of resistance to chemotherapy.
In 2003, a group from Stanford University researching breast cancer discovered that paired box gene 8 is expressed in ovarian cancer tissue, but not in breast cancer. Taking note of the Stanford group’s results, OCI researchers began to investigate the possibility that the gene and its products may be an important biomarker for detecting and researching the causes of ovarian cancer. They began to look for evidence of PAX8, the protein made by paired box gene 8, which was the next step in establishing the gene as a biomarker. Not only did they find PAX8 in the ovarian cancer cells, but they also found it in the cells that form fallopian tubes, the secretory cells. In addition, they discovered that the protein is not expressed in the normal ovarian surface epithelium.
Bowen proposes that ovarian cancer begins by using PAX8 to direct an adult stem cell population found on the ovarian surface to proliferate and ultimately form ovarian cancer. When this gene is turned on in an embryo, it leads to the development of fallopian tubes. When the gene is expressed in healthy adult ovarian cells that migrate into the body of the ovary, it leads to the development of ovarian inclusion cysts. Normally, the growth of cysts is kept in check by the cells’ feedback mechanisms that turn off cell growth. But in cancer, when these feedback mechanisms are mutated, the cysts grow out of control until they metastasize.
"It’s a way of molecularly characterizing tumors that may lead to designing specific therapies based on the molecular profile,” said Bowen. “Biology is basically an information processing system to generate end products, and there are a lot of decisions that have to be made by the regulatory genes, like paired box gene 8, before the end products can be made.
Bowen’s next steps are to find out why paired box gene 8 gets turned on and to discover its targets in order to find out of it turns on another decision-making gene or an endpoint gene.
"That’s the daunting task of cancer biologists,” he said. “Now that we've sequenced the human genome, we have to make sense out of the thousands of genes that are expressed in cancer at the same time.”
This research was supported by grants from the Georgia Cancer Coalition and a gift in remembrance of Josephine Crawford Robinson for support of the Ovarian Cancer Institute Laboratory.
The Ovarian Cancer Institute (OCI) was founded by gynecologic oncologist Benedict Benigno in 1999. The OCI’s laboratory moved to Georgia Tech in 2004 and currently has researchers located at Emory University, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University and the Medical College of Georgia. The lab is headed by John McDonald, professor and chair of the School of Biology at Georgia Tech and chief scientific officer at the OCI.
David Terraso | EurekAlert!
Bioenergy cropland expansion could be as bad for biodiversity as climate change
11.12.2018 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen
How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
11.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2018 | Information Technology