How heat helps to treat cancer

August 8, 2012

Research at Bangor University has identified a switch in cells that may help to kill tumors with heat. Prostate cancer and other localized tumors can be effectively treated by a combination of heat and an anti-cancer drug that damages the genes. Behind this novel therapy is the enigmatic ability of heat to switch off essential survival mechanisms in human cells. Although thermotherapy is now more widely used, the underlying principles are still unclear.

In a recent publication in the researchers based in the School of Biological Sciences report now that heat modulates these survival systems by promoting the production of a novel protein. Intriguingly, this protein is only produced when elevated temperatures activate a gene that hides inside another gene.

The leader of the group, Dr Thomas Caspari says: "The discovery is reminiscent of a Russian doll were a set of smaller wooden figures is placed inside a larger doll. The existence of such hidden genes may explain why the human genome has a much smaller number of genes than initially expected. Our work may also help to improve heat-treatment of cancer for the benefit of patients. This research success was a real team effort made possible by the generous funding from Cancer Research Wales and the European Leonardo DaVinci Program."

More information: http://jcs.biologists.org/content/early/2012/07/10/jcs.104075.abstract

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study reveals new insight into DNA repair

August 3, 2015

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the worst possible form of genetic malfunction that can cause cancer and resistance to therapy. New information published this week reveals more about why this occurs and how these breaks ...

Strange circular DNA may offer new way to detect cancers

July 30, 2015

Strange rings of DNA that exist outside chromosomes are distinct to the cell types that mistakenly produced them, researchers have discovered. The finding raises the tantalizing possibility that the rings could be used as ...

0 comments

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.