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UIC researchers discover gene that causes liver cancer in animals

ent of proteins, to a segment of p19ARF that was shown to inhibit Foxm1b, the scientists enabled the tumor suppressor to cross the cell membrane and enter the body of the cancer cells.

"The 'drug' reduced not only the activity of Fox m1b but also the growth of cancer cell colonies," Costa said. "We're extremely excited about this finding because it suggests we might have a therapy for stemming the spread of liver cancer."

Costa, who has made a career of studying the Fox family of genes, has long puzzled over why Foxm1b is not active in old age. When the gene is out of commission, tissues can't regenerate, muscles atrophy, and bones thin. For an organism subject to rules of natural selection, the suppression of Fox m1b seemed odd.

With the current findings, however, Costa wonders whether the human body has evolved to curb Foxm1b in old age in an attempt to thwart cancer.

"I know it's speculative," Costa said, "but perhaps aging is just an unintended by-product of an adaptive mechanism to stave off cancer and certain death. Perhaps aging is just nature's way of attacking cancer."


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Contact: Sharon Butler
sbutler@uic.edu
312-355-2522
University of Illinois at Chicago
1-Apr-2004


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