LOS ANGELES -- Using new technology that can analyze 18,000 to 20,000 genes at a time, researchers at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have found 13 genes that are differentially expressed in brain tumors compared to normal tissue.
Discovery of the genes is the first step in a process that may lead to more effective diagnosis, treatment or even prevention of brain tumors. Of the 13 new candidates, three are "known" genes -- their structures have been decoded or 'sequenced.' Ten others are 'expressed sequence tags' (ESTs) -- genes that are "unknown," having been identified but not yet sequenced in full. Whether the genes themselves are known or unknown, their functions within tumors are still a mystery.
"Our next step is to obtain the complete sequence of the unknown genes," according to Julia Y. Ljubimova, M.D., Ph.D., research scientist at the Institute. Breaking down a gene's code can take up to a year, she said, depending on the size of the gene. "Second, we have to characterize the genes. We must determine what they do in tumors versus normal tissue."
Dr. Ljubimova (pronounced "Lou-bee-mo-va"), who has been involved in cancer research for the past 15 years, said characterizing the genes -- understanding their activities and the results they produce -- may eventually unlock some of cancer's secrets, such as why tumor cells, unlike normal cells, grow without limit, or how they are able to invade other parts of the body.
"Our goal is to find which genes are expressed exclusively in tumors so that we can devise new strategies to block those genes and prevent tumor growth," said Dr. Ljubimova, who joined the Institute in mid-1998 to help establish its molecular biology lab.
The new gene identification method in use at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical
Institute, Gene Discovery Array, is one of the advances springing from the
scientific community's race to map all of the genes of
Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center