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Support for chromosomal theory of cancer found in cancers' development of drug resistance

low Ruhong Li showed that the karyotype of drug-resistant cancer cells differs significantly from the karyotype of drug-sensitive cells from which they grew.

Clinicians have found, for example, that the gene expression profile of a breast cancer cell can tell them which treatments work best. This indicates, Duesberg said, that chromosomal disruption, which affects the expression of thousands of genes, is a better explanation for the cause of breast cancer than is the mutation theory.

"They see now, more and more, that aneuploidy cannot be ignored. It is a big elephant compared to their little mutations," he said.

Also, the more often a cancer changes karyotypes as it grows, he said, the more drugs it becomes resistant to.

"The inherent instability of aneuploidy thus explains the enormous adaptability of cancers against cytotoxic drugs and dims hopes for gene-specific therapies," Duesberg, Li and their co-authors wrote.

While this is bad news for cancer patients, Duesberg pointed out that the aneuploidy theory of cancer also provides a means for earlier detection of cancer. He and colleague David Rasnick have developed a cell scanner to search for aneuploid cells, such as from a Pap smear for cervical cancer or from biopsies for breast cancer. Rasnick formed a company to market the device, which recently was acquired by Modern Technology Corp. Aneuploid scanning is already employed in some European countries to screen for cancer.


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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
27-Jun-2007


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