A mutant that kills cancer
Annalee Newitz — A medical researcher has discovered that a mutant gene once believed to cause cancerous tumors is actually the perfect weapon to stop them. Weirdly, it's possible that benign tumors may be the key to stopping cancer.
The Mayo Clinic's Dr. Honey Reddi experimented with thyroid cancer genes, and this week will present a paper at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston about her incredible discovery. Reports the Mayo Clinic:
Dr. Reddi's discovery could have widespread implications in cancer research and endocrinology. It could help oncologists sharpen the diagnosis of specific types of thyroid cancers, while leading pharmaceutical researchers toward therapeutics derived from a protein once thought to feed tumor growth.
"It's not an oncogene like everyone thought it was," Dr. Reddi says, referring to a gene with the potential to cause cancer. "We all knew what happened in the cell culture, but we said, 'That's not good enough,' so we asked, 'What would it do in mice?'" . . . Dr. Reddi's research found that the PAX8/PPARγ fusion protein, developed from a mutated fusion gene found in many follicular thyroid carcinomas, functions as a tumor suppressor by upregulating (encourages natural production of) microRNA-122 and PTEN, both naturally occurring anti-tumor agents.
Read more via the Mayo Clinic website.