DURHAM, N.C. -- A new way that cancers may be triggered in the body -- through damage to a molecular "safety key" that normally holds cell growth in check -- has been reported by Duke University Medical Center pharmacologists.
The discovery, reported in the Nov. 1 issue of Genes & Development, is one of three different advances described by the scientists in October and November, all of which point toward new ways to interfere with the malignant machinery of cancer cells to kill them.
In a second paper in the October issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology, the scientists reported new understanding of how cancer cells acquire the ability to avoid the natural death, called "apoptosis," that normal cells experience. Such capability allows cancer cells to survive chemotherapy treatments that would kill normal cells. Reporting the findings are assistant professor of pharmacology Ann Marie Pendergast, and graduate students David Cortez and Lisa Kadlec.
In a third paper in the Nov. 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mikhail Gishizky of SUGEN Inc. along with Pendergast and Cortez reported success in halting the growth of leukemia cells by jamming their growth machinery. The researchers said they believe that such "molecular sabotage" could become a useful treatment for a variety of cancers.
The research by Pendergast and her colleagues was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Pendergast is a Whitehead Scholar and a scholar of the Leukemia Society of America. She is also a member of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is supported by the National Cancer Institute. Cortez is a graduate student in the department of molecular cancer biology.
The researchers made their discoveries studying an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which produces two forms of leukemia -- chronic myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The BCR-ABL gene forms when a genetic mistake occurs in bon
Contact: Dennis Meredith
Duke University Medical Center