Novel 'On-Off Switch' Mechanism Stops Cancer in Its Tracks

Novel 'On-Off Switch' Mechanism Stops Cancer in Its Tracks
( -- A tiny bit of genetic material with no previously known function may hold the key to stopping the spread of cancer, researchers at Yale School of Medicine and Sichuan University in Chengdu, China report in two papers in the September 7-11 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the papers, Alan Garen of the Department of & Biochemistry at Yale and his colleague Xu Song explain how cancer may overcome an organism’s natural “stop sign” for cell division.

During early development, stem cells give rise to other cells that differentiate into all types of tissue. New cell division and proliferation stop as the organism matures. However, cancer can hijack this process and trigger the uncontrolled cell division that produces cancer tumors.

One mechanism that stops cell proliferation is a family of tumor-suppressor proteins (TSP) that bind to and block the function of proto-oncogenes, or genes that have the potential to trigger cancer.

Garen’s team working with mice found that an RNA molecule from an area of the genome that does not produce proteins prevents a type of TSP from inactivating these incipient cancer genes. The TSP protein they studied, called PSF, is virtually identical in mice and humans, he said.

The Yale team succeeded in preventing the formation of tumors in mice by either increasing the amount of PSF or decreasing the amount of the non-coding RNA in a cell.

”The tumor cell stops proliferating and the tumor regresses in a mouse model of cancer, suggesting that both procedures could be the basis of a clinical protocol,” Garen said.

Garen and his colleagues plan to continue their studies on the mechanism that regulates the amount of PSF-binding RNA in a cell, which they believe is central to the origins of .

The other authors on the papers are Ling Li, Gang Wang, Tingting Feng, Ying Cui, Yingying Lian, and Guangfeng Zhang, and Xu Song, who are in the laboratory established by Xu Song at Sichuan University in China after he left Yale.

Provided by Yale University (news : web)

Citation: Novel 'On-Off Switch' Mechanism Stops Cancer in Its Tracks (2009, September 11) retrieved 17 June 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 11, 2009
Wait, what? This is an actual generic cure for cancer?

Sep 11, 2009
these results are a dime a dozen, much has to be done before any conclusions can be drawn, fingers crossed tho

Sep 11, 2009
Wait, what? This is an actual generic cure for cancer?

Wow, it does seem to read that way and without all of the hype that normally is attached to releases like this. I guess we have to wait and see now. So I guess now they look for a drug that can boost production of PSF and people will be popping them every day with their vitamins. How did they get the PSF to the tumors of mice that already had cancer?

Sep 12, 2009
I really enjoy the budding possibilities in tackling the big two banes on our existence this past month.

Sep 17, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

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