Socking it to cancer

Aug 02, 2006

An Australian research team has identified a gene that could be used to stop tumours growing by blocking their blood supply.

A study led by Professor Peter Koopman, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, showed that tumours in mice with a mutant form of the gene SOX18 actually stopped growing and became benign, unlike the lethal tumours that grew in normal mice.

Tumours only grow and spread if they can form a blood supply, and SOX18 is a key regulator of blood vessel formation. Mice with the mutant form of the gene were unable to develop blood vessels to feed the tumour.

“We were absolutely staggered to see that the tumours in these mice just stopped growing altogether at such a small size,” Professor Koopman said.

“Tumours of an equivalent size in humans would not be fatal, so if this discovery could be transferred to people, we could basically starve tumours before they could do much harm.”

Professor Koopman said that this type of gene therapy would have benefits over existing cancer treatments.

“A key advantage of using SOX18 in treating cancer would be that it is very, very specific in its role, unlike chemotherapy which has such broad side-effects.

“SOX18 acts in new blood vessels, not existing ones, so interfering with it will only cut off blood supply to the growing tumour, and not to the rest of the body.”

The next step is to develop a drug that can mimic the effects of the mutant SOX18 gene in humans.

A method also needs to be developed that would deliver such a drug directly to the SOX18 gene in the middle of the cell. Recent advances in targeted gene delivery have left Professor Koopman hopeful that this is not too far off.

“Once these technical hurdles are overcome, SOX18 will be an attractive target for human cancer therapy,” he said.

The results of the study, which also involved researchers from the Hanson Institute, Adelaide, and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, will be published today (Wednesday 2 August) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a prestigious American cancer journal.

Source: University of Queensland

Explore further: SLeone vice president in Ebola quarantine asks country to pray

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

IOC defends Rio legacy amid green protests

2 hours ago

Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event ...

Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator

2 hours ago

Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications is looking to acquire German data centre operator e-shelter, as it seeks to cash in on growing demand in Europe, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Fashionable or geeky—the modern watch dilemma

6 hours ago

It's Milan fashion week, you've got tickets to the catwalk shows and an outfit to die for, but which watch to wear? A chunky smartwatch or chic ticker that can't tell the time?

Recommended for you

Young girl's story may lead Idaho to approve marijuana oil

1 hour ago

(AP)—Ten-year-old Alexis Carey has a rare but intractable form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome. The genetic diseases causes severe and multiple seizures, which often leave parents guessing if the terror of watching their child ...

Psychology of food choice: Challenging the status quo

9 hours ago

Researchers are challenging conventional beliefs about the effectiveness of traditional strategies for encouraging healthy eating. The symposium, "Challenging Misconceptions About the Psychology of Food Choice," includes ...

Image-guided treatment shown to break the migraine cycle

9 hours ago

An innovative interventional radiology treatment has been found to offer chronic migraine sufferers sustained relief of their headaches, according to research being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.