New cancer gene discovered

October 13, 2009

A new cancer gene has been discovered by a research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The gene causes an insidious form of glandular cancer usually in the head and neck and in women also in the breast. The discovery could lead to quicker and better diagnosis and more effective treatment.

The study is published today in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The cancer caused by this new is called adenoid cystic and is a slow-growing but deadly form of cancer. The research group can now show that the gene is found in 100% of these tumours, which means that a genetic test can easily be used to make a correct diagnosis.

"Now that we know what the cancer is down to, we can also develop new and more effective treatments for this often highly malignant and insidious form of cancer," says professor Göran Stenman, who heads the research group at the Lundberg Laboratory for Cancer Research at the Sahlgrenska Academy. "One possibility might be to develop a drug that quite simply turns off this gene."

The newly discovered cancer gene is what is known as a fusion gene, created when two healthy genes join together as a result of a chromosome change.

"Previously it was thought that fusion genes pretty much only caused , but our group can now show that this type of cancer gene is also common in glandular cancer," says Stenman.

One of the two genes that form the fusion gene is known as MYB. Among other things, this gene controls cell growth and makes sure that the body gets rid of cells that are no longer needed. It has long been known to be a highly potent cancer gene in animals, but for a long time there was no evidence of the gene being involved in the development of tumours in humans.

"We suggested back in 1986 that the MYB gene might be involved in this form of cancer, but it's only recently that we've had access to the tools needed to prove it," says Stenman.

The research group has also looked at the mechanism behind the transformation of the normal MYB gene into a cancer gene. Genes can be compared to blueprints for proteins. Carefully controlled regulating systems then determine when and how much of each protein is formed. One such regulating system, discovered recently, is microRNA, which can turn genes on and off. When this cancer gene forms, this important control system is put out of action, leading to activation of the gene and massive overproduction of an abnormal MYB protein with carcinogenic properties.

"This is an important discovery, because it's a new mechanism which I think will turn out to be quite common in a variety of human cancers," says Stenman.

More information: (PNAS) , Recurrent fusion of the MYB and NFIB transcription factor genes in carcinomas of the breast and head and neck; Marta Persson, Ywonne Andrén, Joachim Mark, Hugo M. Horlings, Fredrik Persson, Göran Stenman

Source: University of Gothenburg (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

Liquid biopsy results differed substantially between two providers

December 14, 2017
Two Johns Hopkins prostate cancer researchers found significant disparities when they submitted identical patient samples to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers. Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative ...

Testing the accuracy of FDA-approved and lab-developed cancer genetics tests

December 14, 2017
Cancer molecular testing can drive clinical decision making and help a clinician determine if a patient is a good candidate for a targeted therapeutic drug. Clinical tests for common cancer causing-mutations in the genes ...

Newest data links inflammation to chemo-brain

December 14, 2017
Inflammation in the blood plays a key role in "chemo-brain," according to a published pilot study that provides evidence for what scientists have long believed.

One in five young colon cancer patients have genetic link

December 13, 2017
As doctors grapple with increasing rates of colorectal cancers in young people, new research from the University of Michigan may offer some insight into how the disease developed and how to prevent further cancers. Researchers ...

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.