Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Rochester scientists test new method to attack cancer

15.07.2003


Scientists have used a technique called RNA interference to impair cancer cells’ ability to produce a key enzyme called telomerase. The enzyme, present in most major types of cancer cells, gives cells the lethal ability to divide rampantly without dying. The laboratory experiments create an opportunity for researchers who are focusing on telomerase in a bid to develop a drug like none ever developed - one capable of killing 85 percent of cancers



The research, led by Peter T. Rowley, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center, is being presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

The enzyme telomerase produces telomeres, located at the ends of each chromosome, which protect the ends of chromosomes as cells divide. In a normal cell, the telomeres shorten each time the cell divides. After a cell divides 50 to 100 times, the telomeres shorten so much that they can no longer protect the chromosome, and the cell eventually dies.


Scientists believe that such cell death is normal, even healthy. But as a healthy cell turns cancerous, a genetic mutation triggers the production of telomerase, which restores the telomeres to normal length. The restored telomeres enable the cell to divide, unchecked, thousands of times instead of the usual 50 to 100. Over time, a few cancer cells can multiply into a golf-ball-sized tumor or spread to other parts of the body.

Since researchers discovered the important role telomerase plays in most cancers in the mid-1990s, much attention has been focused on finding a way to attack them. Several methods are in various stages of development.

The University of Rochester team used RNA interference to disrupt the production of telomerase in various cancer cells including colon, skin, cervical, and lung cancer. They crafted tiny snippets of double-stranded RNA, tailored to seek out the chemical message in the cell that conveys the instructions for making telomerase. Those snippets attracted enzymes and, together, they sought out and destroyed the cells’ chemical messages for making telomerase.

The technique reduced – but didn’t fully block – the production of telomerase. But with the cells’ supply of telomerase decreased, the telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes began to shorten. Over 75 days, the telomeres were shortened by as much as 85 percent. Rowley believes that if the experiment had been continued, the telomeres would have been shortened so much that all the cancer cells in the experiment would have died.

"If we can develop a therapy that prevents cancer cells from making telomerase, we may have a therapy that is effective against most cancers," said Rowley. "There are several hurdles we have to overcome before we can bring such a therapy to patients. Nonetheless, telomerase appears to be the most promising target we have in the search for an agent that is broadly effective against most forms of cancer."

Among the hurdles Rowley and other researchers are addressing is the possibility that RNA injected into the body could be broken down by enzymes before it reaches a patient’s cancer cells. Rowley plans a new series of experiments in mice to explore that possibility and devise a strategy to overcome it.


The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Leukemia Research Association, and the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation.

Christopher DiFrancesco | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Neutrons produce first direct 3D maps of water during cell membrane fusion
21.09.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

nachricht Narcolepsy, scientists unmask the culprit of an enigmatic disease
20.09.2018 | Universitätsspital Bern

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: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Astrophysicists measure precise rotation pattern of sun-like stars for the first time

21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Brought to light – chromobodies reveal changes in endogenous protein concentration in living cells

21.09.2018 | Life Sciences

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>