Cancer-resistant mouse discovered

November 27, 2007

A mouse resistant to cancer, even highly-aggressive types, has been created by researchers at the University of Kentucky. The breakthrough stems from a discovery by UK College of Medicine professor of radiation medicine Vivek Rangnekar and a team of researchers who found a tumor-suppressor gene called "Par-4" in the prostate.

The researchers discovered that the Par-4 gene kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. There are very few molecules that specifically fight against cancer cells, giving it a potentially therapeutic application.

Funded by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, Rangnekar's study is unique in that mice born with this gene are not developing tumors. The mice grow normally and have no defects. In fact, the mice possessing Par-4 actually live a few months longer than the control animals, indicating that they have no toxic side effects.

"We originally discovered Par-4 in the prostate, but it's not limited to the prostate. The gene is expressed in every cell type that we've looked at and it induces the death of a broad range of cancer cells, including of course, cancer cells in the prostate," said Rangnekar. "The interesting part of this study is that this killer gene is selective for killing cancer cells. It will not kill normal cells and there are very, very few selective molecules out there like this."

To further investigate the potential therapeutic benefits of this gene, Rangnekar's team introduced it into the egg of a mouse. That egg was then planted into a surrogate mother.

"The mouse itself does not express a large number of copies of this gene, but the pups do and then their pups start expressing the gene," Rangnekar said. "So, we've been able to transfer this activity to generations in the mouse."

The implications for humans could be that through bone marrow transplantation, the Par-4 molecule could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"When a cancer patient goes to the clinic, they undergo chemotherapy or radiation and there are potential side effects associated with these treatments," Rangnekar said. "We got interested in looking for a molecule which will kill cancer cells and not kill normal cells, but also would not be toxic with regard to the production of side effects to the entire organism. We are thinking of this in a holistic approach that not only would get rid of the tumor, but also not harm the organism as a whole. Before this animal study, we published a lot of work indicating that in cell culture, there's no killing of normal cells. This is the proof that it doesn’t kill normal cells because the mouse is alive and healthy."

Rangnekar admits there is much more work to be done before this research can be applied to humans, but agrees that is the most logical next step.

"I look at this research from the standpoint of how it can be developed to the benefit of the cancer patient and that's really what keeps us focused all this time," said Rangnekar. "If you look at the pain that cancer patients go through, not just from the disease, but also from the treatment – it's excruciating. If you have someone in your family, like I did, who has gone through that, you know you can see that pain. If you can not only treat the cancer, but also not harm the patient, that's a major breakthrough. That's happening with these animals and I think that's wonderful."

The research was published in the October edition of the journal Cancer Research.

Source: University of Kentucky

Explore further: Waking up dormant tumour suppressor genes

Related Stories

Rare childhood disease linked to major cancer gene

December 1, 2016

A team of researchers led by a University of Rhode Island scientist has discovered an important molecular link between a rare childhood genetic disease, Fanconi anemia, and a major cancer gene called PTEN. The discovery improves ...

Recommended for you

11 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

roguetrekker
5 / 5 (4) Nov 27, 2007
I wish they gave some kind of estimated time-line for more research and clinical trials. There are people dying right now that could use this. I know there are protocols to be followed, but some patients have nothing left to loose, including their hope. This treatment at least could give it back to them, whether or not it turns out to be the miracle cure I pray it is.
googleplex
not rated yet Nov 27, 2007
Let's hope so.
Correct me if I am wrong, I think no one has cracked gene therapy yet. Activating the Par-4 gene could do more harm than good. Let's hope that it works and translates to the primate models well and it is viable.
Sharks have been known for decades to have cancer resistant. However no one has managed to translate that into a cure. Clearly the mouse mdoel (mammal) is closer to us than a shark (fish). So that bodes well.
I would think that if we could find out the mechanism of how Par-4 gene expression kills cancer cells then that might open up a new field of research. e.g. does Par-4 produce a wonder protein that causes cancer cells to self destruct. In which case you have a novell wonder drug.
Icester
5 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2007
This stands no chance of every being funding or allowed to progress. No $$$ in it. At least not as much as pharmaceutical companies can throw at it to get it blocked as "unethical" or "risky.". Remember, it is much more profitable to keep treating the symptoms for as long as possible. A cure would eliminate the money train.

Sorry, call me a bit cynical. I've seen too many good ideas squashed.
mattytheory
5 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2007
You're cynical, but you're right. I guess that makes me cynical too..
googleplex
5 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2007
This stands no chance of every being funding or allowed to progress. No $$$ in it. At least not as much as pharmaceutical companies can throw at it to get it blocked as "unethical" or "risky.". Remember, it is much more profitable to keep treating the symptoms for as long as possible. A cure would eliminate the money train.

Sorry, call me a bit cynical. I've seen too many good ideas squashed.


This was a UK researcher. The UK has a health care system that is non-profit unlike here in the USA. Perhaps it will get some UK/Cananda government funding. Imagine the cost savings for health care. One bone marrow sample from the hip bone, gene therapy marrow in vitro, then inject back into the hip. Zero rejection issues. Perhaps it would be one of those treatments that don't cross the pond like prosthetic hip joints. The UK uses superior ceramic ones. USA uses titanium. Only recently have ceramic prosthetic hip joints been marketed in the USA.
There is definitely something odd going on.
jsquare
not rated yet Nov 27, 2007
Does anyone have a layman's explanation as to why, if humans already possess this gene (as in the prostate cells), it is not actively preventing tumor growth in humans?
zbarlici
not rated yet Nov 27, 2007
its in the govt`s best interest to seek cures for all ailments imagine how much money they would save on health care the US could finally redirect funding to education etc! ...i think that if theres a cure it wouldnt be held back.. on the other hand no pharaceutical companies go too far out of their way to find a cure....
Mudflow
not rated yet Nov 28, 2007
The good news is that the talented "...team of researchers..." from "... UK College of Medicine..." made their breakthrough discovery in Kentucky. This UK is the University of Kentucky.
I don't see any bad news in this report.
soulkiss
not rated yet Nov 28, 2007
Remember, it is much more profitable to keep treating the symptoms for as long as possible. A cure would eliminate the money train.


That is ONE business model. Lasik is pretty crap for the spectacles market. However, it exists because it can create a profit. Big Money will see a profit in a potential CURE FOR CANCER! lol
ofarmer
not rated yet Nov 29, 2007
Believe it or not. Every bodys body has every thing it takes to defeat cancer. Come to think of it your body IS the only thing that can heal its self, you just have to give it what it is lacking. Nutrition and oxygen. With proper nutrition YOUR BODY will make any thing it needs (there is aprx.5,000 chemical reactions happing within you every second). Most has to do with ether oxidative or reduction (adding or subtracting a oxygen molecule). A medical Doctor for the most part only prescribes medicine. Medicine is not nutrition. Or in other words you do not get cancer from a lack of chemotherapy. It is a lack of oxygen. However, you can not paten oxygen, therefor theres no money in the fix.
And so the petro- pharmacutiles (I can spell) keeps people like the two time Nobel prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg away from where wood-be Doctors go to become %u201Cmedical%u201D Doctors.
After you look up Warburg you might want to type in ozone therapy.

Cancer has only one prime cause. It is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body's cells by an anaerobic [i.e., oxygen-deficient] cell respiration. -Dr. Otto Warburg
dav
not rated yet Nov 29, 2007
I am not sure about cancer but a friend of mine told me that he had started taking resveratrol based on a doctors suggestion about six weeks ago. My friend was experiencing chronic fatigue
and was having trouble sleeping. I asked him how it was working out and he said that he was taking a type of resveratrol called Transmax and that after two weeks the results were subtle but undeniable. He said that he had more energy during the day, was more alert throughout the day and was sleeping less but waking up more refreshed. So based on his experience I decided to give it a try. I have had similiar results after just one week. It is only recently that I have heard about it anti-aging benefits.
There is something to this resveratrol, I have no idea if I will live longer but I can tell you that I am living better now.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.