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Scientists Find Cancer Spreading Gene

Scientists Find Cancer Spreading Gene

Scientists discover the gene responsible for cancer spreading throughout the body…

Scientists say they have discovered the gene responsible for the spreading of cancer through the body. The team, from the University of East Anglia, found that the presence of gene WWP2, lead to the breakdown of an inhibitor that normally keeps cells stable. Lab tests conducted on tissue cultures showed that without the inhibitor, known as Smad7, cancer spread at a fast rate. But when researchers blocked the gene, the cancer ceased to spread further.

Cancer Research UK said the study improved understanding of the disease, but was still at the laboratory stage. The treatment for primary cancer is often successful, but tumors have the potential to spread, and when they do they can be notoriously hard to treat. Dr Andrew Chantry, who led the study, said:

“I think we’re really onto something important if we can put a wall around a cancer and lock it in place…
“The discovery could lead to the development of a new generation of drugs within the decade that could be used to stop the aggressive spread of most forms of the disease.” [BBC]

cancer cells Scientists Find Cancer Spreading Gene

Blocking Gene WWP2 Could Stop Cancer Spreading

The team is now looking to recruit chemists to design a useable drug that could inhibit the genes activity. They hope that their findings will lead a new generation of cancer drugs within a decade. Dr Kat Arney, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said:

“Over recent decades researchers all over the world have discovered genes that drive the growth and spread of cancer, and this research adds one more to this ever-growing list…
“But, while these new results aid our understanding of the complexities of cancer and could point towards potential leads for future anti-cancer drugs, the work is still at the laboratory stage.” [BBC]

The findings were published in the online Nature Journal Oncogene.


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  1. James Gallagher: Blocking a gene stops cancer cells spreading. BBC, 01/24/2011.
  2. Oncogene,, 2011.

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