Mayo Clinic discovers important clue to new treatments for lymphoma, breast and colon cancers

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic cancer researchers have discovered a key partnership between two genes in mice that prevents the development of cancer of the lymph nodes, known as T-cell leukemia or lymphoma.

This first-time finding provides researchers with a promising target for designing new anti-cancer drugs that fight lymphomas, as well as other cancers in which this partnership exists, including breast and colon cancers.

The Mayo Clinic research report appears as the cover story in today's edition of the journal, Cancer Cell, (http://www.cancercell.org). Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., a specialist in pediatric cancers with the Department of Pediatrics and a member of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, led the research team.

According to Dr. van Deursen, the Mayo Clinic cancer research team used specially-bred laboratory mice to demonstrate three things not previously known about the development of these types of cancer. They are the first to:

  • Provide laboratory evidence that the gene CBP is a tumor suppressor -- and that the lack of CBP contributes to the formation of lymphoma.
  • Demonstrate that the absence of CBP works in partnership with low levels of a protein called p27Kip1. When these two conditions are present, lymphoma development accelerates in mice.
  • Discover that two compounds -- Cyclin E and Skp2 -- control p27Kip1 levels.
"We not only found the tumor suppressor, we also showed what other gene defects need to occur in the same cell for cancer to progress," says Dr. van Deursen. "Cancer is not the result of a single defect, but is related to a combination of defects and events," he explains. "To find the best treatment, it's vital to discover what combinations of changes have occurred with the cell to transform it from a normal cell into a cancer cell."

Lymphoma belongs to the hematologic malignancies group of cancer

Contact: Mary Lawson
Mayo Clinic

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