Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford researchers switch off cancer gene; trick cells to self desruct

05.07.2002


Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center have tricked cancer cells into self- destructing by briefly disabling a cancer-causing gene. Although the gene revs back up after deactivation, the brief hiatus gives the affected cells a chance to alter their cancerous destiny. This work in mice could open new avenues for treating some human cancers, researchers believe.



Cancer usually results after a cell accumulates a handful of mutations in cancer-related genes called oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes. Researchers had thought that cancer cells would side-step attempts to fix any single genetic change, especially after treatment ends. But in a study published in the July 5 issue of Science, researchers found that by briefly tinkering with only one mutant gene they could forever alter the course of the cancer.

"Nobody had ever seen that turning off a cancer gene for a few days caused irreversible change," said Dean Felsher, MD, PhD, assistant professor of oncology and lead researcher on the study. "Most people thought that cancer would come back once treatment that turned off an oncogene stopped."


Felsher and his colleagues worked with a gene called MYC, which normally tells a cell when to grow or divide. In many types of cancers, such as lymphoma, breast, colon, and prostate, this gene produces excess protein that allows the rapid growth characteristic of cancer cells. "Anything you learn about MYC should be applicable to a lot of tumors," Felsher said. He added that because the gene is so important, any results may carry significant weight.

Felsher created bone cancer cells containing an altered version of MYC that could be shut down by adding a molecular off switch. He then injected those cells into mice, which went on to develop bone cancer. When he fed mice the off switch, MYC production stopped and the cancer cells quickly reverted to normal bone cells. After 10 days, he stopped treatment, allowing the gene to resume churning out protein. Instead of restarting cancerous growth, the cells died.

Mice that had their MYC gene switched off for 10 days survived four times longer than untreated mice with bone cancer. The cancer resurfaced in some of the treated mice, but went back into remission with another round of temporary MYC-disabling treatment. "You don’t always need to shut the oncogene off permanently," Felsher said. "That could change the way you think about treating cancer."

Felsher cautioned that his current results may not apply to all cancers. His previous work shows that MYC - like all oncogenes - is a complicated gene that can contribute to cancer by many different mechanisms. Depending on which role the gene is playing in the cell, the effects of shutting it off may vary. "We are trying to understand the genetics of when shutting off MYC will work," Felsher said.


Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.


Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>