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Gene found to help Stop the Spread of Some Cancers


January 4th, 2006

Gene found to help Stop the Spread of Some Cancers

Double Helix

In a recent article published in January 5th issue of Nature, a study showed that a gene is responsible for stopping the spread of some cancers.

The gene is called caspase 8 and it acts as a check point to make sure that skin cells stay with the skin, organ cells stay with the designated organ.  When a violation of a cell occurs it is the job of the caspase 8 to activate integrins which cause the cell to die off.

Childhood neuroblastoma cancer, show that there is a lack of the caspas 8 gene and is an aggressive cancer that occurs in children around the age of 2 years.  The gene is missing or suppressed in 70 percent of children with aggressive neuroblastomas.  The problem with this type of cancer is that it spreads throughout the body quickly and it hard to treat once it is diagnosed.


The researchers, from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis participated in this research project.  Senior author, David Cheresh, a professor of pathology at University of California at San Diego, San Diego and his colleagues showed that some of the cancer cells either would suppress or remove caspase 8 which allowed for new tumors to grow in other parts of the body. 

Cheresh also said that these findings could also be similar in other types of cancers that spread in the same manor. They found that there is absent or suppressed Caspase 8 in 70 percent of small cell lung cancer patients, 10 percent in colon cancers patients, and 35 percent in medullobalstoma brain cancer patients.  The genetic mutation will either delete both of the capase 8 gene or it will silence the gene.

``If we can develop drugs targeted at restoring caspase-8, we may be able to stop metastasis,'' said Cheresh, ``That now appears feasible.''

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


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