Researchers identify gene that regulates tumors in neuroblastoma

June 1, 2009

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have identified a gene that may play a key role in regulating tumor progression in neuroblastoma, a form of cancer usually found in young children. Scientists hope the finding could lead to an effective therapy to inhibit the expression of this gene.

According to Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., who is the first incumbent of the Thelma Newmeyer Corman Endowed Chair in Cancer Research with the VCU Massey Cancer Center, and Seok-Geun Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, co-lead investigators of the study, the team has shown that astrocyte elevated gene-1, AEG-1, a cancer promoting gene, is frequently activated in .

In the study published online in the May issue of the journal Oncogene, Fisher, Lee and their team found that the elevated expression of AEG-1 makes cells highly aggressive and resistant to factors that may influence , and that loss of AEG-1 reduces the tumor-causing properties of highly aggressive neuroblastoma cells. Additionally, the expression of AEG-1 was significantly elevated in six of 10 neuroblastoma patient-derived samples compared to normal peripheral nerve tissues.

Furthermore, they have shown the potential correlation between AEG-1 and MYCN in neuroblastoma. MYCN is a known genetic determinant of neuroblastoma and elevated levels have been observed in one third of neuroblastoma patients. MYCN is linked to aggressive tumor formation and poor clinical outcome.

"We believe that activation of AEG-1 in addition to MYCN is critical to the development and progression of neuroblastoma. This works shows that AEG-1 plays a crucial role in the development and progression of neuroblastoma through activating important signaling pathway and induction of MYCN," said Fisher, who also is professor and chair of the Department of Human and , and director of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine in the VCU School of Medicine.

"In addition, we have shown that AEG-1 could be a potential prognostic marker for neuroblastoma and a potential target for novel therapeutic strategies for neuroblastoma patients," he said.

The team has already begun analyzing the expression of AEG-1 and its relationship with MYCN status in neuroblastoma patient samples. Through collaboration with John Maris, M.D., chair of neuroblastoma research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the team will acquire data from approximately 2,000 neuroblastoma patient tissues. They will also test if inactivation of AEG-1 using small interfering RNA could be a therapeutic intervention for neuroblastoma through second collaborative effort with Bill Weiss, M.D., associate professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers unravel novel mechanism by which tumors grow resistant to radiotherapy

November 23, 2017
A Ludwig Cancer Research study has uncovered a key mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to radiation therapy and shown how such resistance might be overcome with drugs that are currently under development. The discovery ...

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

One in four U.S. seniors with cancer has had it before

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—For a quarter of American seniors, a cancer diagnosis signals the return of an old foe, new research shows.

Combination immunotherapy targets cancer resistance

November 22, 2017
Cancer immunotherapy drugs have had notable but limited success because in many cases, tumors develop resistance to treatment. But researchers at Yale and Stanford have identified an experimental antibody that overcomes this ...

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.