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Genetic discovery in fruit flies may open new avenues for understanding cancer growth in humans

of a single protein, such as certain forms of leukemia.

Fred Hutchinson researchers also have found the compound to be effective in sensitizing human cells to DNA-damaging agents, a finding that could be exploited to increase the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy, since many anti-cancer drugs inflict DNA damage. Another potential clinical application may be activating silent tumor-suppressor genes, such as p53, to fight cancer growth.

In addition to treating certain cancers, silencing inhibitors such as Splitomicin may be effective against sickle-cell anemia, which arises from defects in the gene for the adult form of hemoglobin. Sufferers do, however, possess a normal version of the fetal hemoglobin gene, which gets silenced early in life as part of normal development. Reversing the silencing of fetal hemoglobin could potentially compensate for the lack of functioning hemoglobin in those with the disease. Likewise, Parkhurst envisions using Sir2 inhibitors to compensate genetically for various certain sex-linked conditions.


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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
16-May-2002


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