Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wound-healing genes influence cancer progression, say Stanford researchers

13.01.2004


Genes that help wounds heal are most often the "good guys," but a new study paints them as the enemy in some types of cancer. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that some tumors activate these wound-healing genes and, when they do, the tumors are more likely to spread. This work could help highlight new ways to treat the disease along with helping doctors decide which cancers to approach more aggressively.



"This is a feature we can find early on in the disease and it could change the way cancer is treated," said Howard Chang, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the paper. The work appears in the Jan. 19 edition of Public Library of Science Biology.

The research group, led by Patrick Brown, MD, PhD, professor of biochemistry, took an unusual approach in finding the telltale genes. In most studies, scientists analyze tumor samples and look for genes that are more active compared to normal tissue. Such studies have produced long lists of genes involved in cancer biology but don’t provide clues about what role those genes may be playing.


Chang started from the opposite direction. He knew wound healing and cancer progression had some similarities, including the growth of new blood vessels, rearrangement of the molecular matrix around the cells and changes in how cells attach to each other. "Wound healing is a process that allows cells to break normal constraints on their growth and cross boundaries. If a cell can access that program, that’s a good environment for cancer," Chang said.

The researchers started by finding which genes are active in cells exposed to clotted blood as a model of cells in the wound-healing process. Then Chang and his colleagues looked to see whether those same genes were active in tumor samples.

The researchers found that prostate and liver cancers always activated wound-healing genes, while tumors in the breast, colon and prostate were mixed. In these variable tissues, tumors with active wound-healing genes turned out to be highly aggressive and were more likely to spread to other tissues.

Chang said assessing wound-healing genes could help doctors choose the best treatment for a patient. "There are a lot of drugs that work only on certain type of cancers. If you realize that different drugs work on a specific abnormality, doctors can match the drug to the problem," he said.

The best-known example of such pharmaceutical matchmaking is the drug Herceptin, which specifically treats breast cancers with an active version of the gene Her2/Neu.

Most doctors don’t have the ability to screen tumor samples for active genes, but they routinely test for the presence of proteins made by genes, as with Her2/Neu. Julie Sneddon, a biochemistry graduate student and second author on the paper, has been working on a similar test to identify tumors that churn out wound-healing proteins.

Chang said the next step is learning how best to treat tumors that produce these proteins. Because wound healing is a well-understood process, researchers may be able to disrupt the process and slow the cancer’s spread. "There are drugs coming out that block blood vessel growth, so perhaps those drugs should be targeted to this population of patients," Chang said.

Additional Stanford researchers who contributed to this work include postdoctoral scholars Ruchira Sood, PhD, and Jen-Tsan Chi, MD, PhD; Ash Alizadeh, MD, PhD, a former graduate student; Rob West, MD, PhD, clinical instructor of pathology; Kelli Montgomery, research associate; and Matt van de Rijn, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology.


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.

Broadcast media contact: M.A. Malone at 650-723-6912 (mamalone@stanford.edu)

Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://med-www.stanford.edu/MedCenter/MedSchool/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Novel anti-cancer nanomedicine for efficient chemotherapy
17.09.2019 | University of Helsinki

nachricht Researchers have identified areas of the retina that change in mild Alzheimer's disease
16.09.2019 | Universidad Complutense de Madrid

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: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

Im Focus: The working of a molecular string phone

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.

This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.

Im Focus: Milestones on the Way to the Nuclear Clock

Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.

If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

AI for Laser Technology Conference: optimizing the use of lasers with artificial intelligence

29.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stroke patients relearning how to walk with peculiar shoe

18.09.2019 | Innovative Products

Statistical inference to mimic the operating manner of highly-experienced crystallographer

18.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists' design discovery doubles conductivity of indium oxide transparent coatings

18.09.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>