Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Overexpressed Protein A Culprit in Certain Thyroid Cancers

Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Study by UT Southwestern researchers suggests a link between nervous system and cancer.

A specific protein once thought to exist only in the brain may play a crucial role in a deadly form of thyroid cancer, as well as other cancers, and provide a fresh target for researchers seeking ways to stop its progression, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report today in Cancer Cell.

The scientists found that over-activation of a certain protein in hormone-secreting cells helps fuel medullary thyroid cancer cells in mice as well as in human cells, making the protein a potentially good target for therapies to inhibit the growth of these cancer cells. 

The discovery by the multidisciplinary team at UT Southwestern has implications for neuroendocrine cancers that arise in organs farther removed from the brain, including the lung and the pancreas.

Although rare, medullary thyroid cancer is often fatal.

“Once or twice a month, patients come to UT Southwestern, often complaining of soreness or a swollen throat,” says Dr. Fiemu Nwariaku, Professor of Surgery and a co-author on the paper. “When the diagnosis is a rare and incurable form of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma, it is always distressing for the patient – and for me – because we currently have no real therapies that truly extend life in these unfortunate cases.”

The only effective treatment is complete surgical removal of the thyroid, and frequently, tissues around the area of the tumor. Unfortunately, like cervical cancer, medullary thyroid cancer often is not diagnosed until it already has spread to other parts of the body.

More than 20 years ago, mutations in a gene were found to cause about 25 percent of these cancers. Genetic sequencing and screening has become an important diagnostic and prognostic tool for those families that share such mutations. But the causes for the remaining 75 percent of patients with this dangerous cancer have remained unknown and a source of frustration for endocrinologists and surgeons such as Dr. Nwariaku, also Associate Dean of Global Health.

While Dr. Nwariaku and his colleagues work to treat these patients, a laboratory in UT Southwestern’s Department of Psychiatry run by Dr. James Bibb, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, was studying molecular mechanisms of brain disorders. In studying Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, Dr. Bibb and his colleagues made a transgenic mouse model of brain injury by overexpressing the Cdk5 protein that they thought was only in the brain.

As the team tracked the developing neurological problems, however, they noted that the mice became sick for reasons that were not at first apparent. The puzzle was solved when they discovered that all of the mice had developed the same thyroid cancer that Dr. Nwariaku treats.

Dr. Bibb and Dr. Nwariaku teamed up and launched a study of both human and mouse thyroid cancer cells. They discovered that Cdk5 was present in specific cells of the thyroid called C cells, and that the protein could escape normal cellular control and cause the cancer in both humans and mice.

Now, with the help of other UT Southwestern scientists, Dr. Bibb and Dr. Nwariaku, both members of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center, are making important progress in their efforts to develop new treatments for this and other more common forms of endocrine cancers. One promising example is the use of high-throughput screening for compounds that block the Cdk5 protein pathway, the researchers said.

“There are currently two FDA-approved drugs for treating neuroendocrine cancers, but neither of them blocks this specific pathway – one this study has shown to be a crucial vulnerability in the cancer, if appropriately targeted,” Dr. Bibb said. “We were surprised, but encouraged, by the finding because they link the human nervous system to disease processes that include the toughest of all foes, cancer.” 

Other researchers participating in the study included Dr. James Richardson, Professor of Pathology, Molecular Biology, and Plastic Surgery, who first recognized the disease in the mouse, and Dr. Xiankai Sun, Associate Professor of Radiology, who was able to track the development of the mouse tumors using advanced in vivo imaging. The work also includes an international collaboration of scientists and physicians who contributed insight and rare samples for the investigation. The research is being funded by the American Cancer Society.

"This research is ongoing, and we are now identifying precisely how Cdk5 causes the growth and spread of these forms of cancer with the goal of discovering new drugs, which we can test in our animal model,” Dr. Bibb said. “We want to work together to translate our laboratory bench-derived insight into treatments that help cancer patients. We also think we will learn more about brain injury by studying this cancer.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

CRI Develops Innovative Approach for Identifying Lung Cancer
Institute has developed innovative approach for identifying processes that fuel tumor growth in lung cancer patients.
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
HIV Protein Manipulates Hundreds of Human Genes
Findings search for new or improved treatments for patients with AIDS.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Synthesize Nanoparticles
Synthetic nanoparticles to deliver tumor-suppressing therapies to damaged livers.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Tumor-suppressing Gene Works by Restraining Mobile Genetic Elements
Findings from the study leads to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
UTSW Researchers Identifies How Drugs Alter Pancreatic Cancer Cells
The findings were published in Cell Reports.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Gene-editing Technique Successfully Stops Progression of DMD
CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing to correct the mutation in the germ line of mice and prevent muscular dystrophy.
Friday, January 01, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Discover a New Role for RNA
Safeguarding chromosome number in human cells, with implications for cancer biology.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Scientists Detect Inherited Traits Tied to Sleep and Wake Associated with Severe Bipolar Disorder
Study provides targets for new approaches to prevent and treat bipolar disorder.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
UT Southwestern Scientist Honored as Rising Star in Texas Research
Dr. Joshua Mendell selected as the recipient of the 2016 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist Receives Breakthrough Prize
Dr. Helen H. Hobbs receives prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
UT Southwestern Biochemist Receives NIH Early Independence Award
Dr. William Israelsen studies on hibernation may aid the fight against cancer.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist to Receive Pearl Meister Greengard Prize
Dr. Helen Hobbs will receive the prize Nov. 17 in a ceremony at The Rockefeller University.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Physiologists Uncover a New Code at the Heart of Biology
New “code” - the speed limit of assembly - dictate the ultimate function of a given protein.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Cell that Replenishes Heart Muscle Found by UT Southwestern Researchers
Researchers devise a new cell-tracing technique to detect cells that do replenish themselves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Scientific News
Improving Regenerative Medicine
Lab-created stem cells may lack key characteristics, UCLA research finds.
Tick Genome Reveals Secrets of a Successful Bloodsucker
NIH has announced that decipher the genome of the blacklegged tick which could lead to new tick control methods.
"Dark Side" of the Transcriptome
New approach to quantifying gene "read-outs" reveals important variations in protein synthesis and has implications for understanding neurodegenerative diseases.
Individuals' Medical Histories Predicted by their Noncoding Genomes
Researchers have found that analyzing mutations in regions of the genome that control genes can predict medical conditions such as hypertension, narcolepsy and heart problems.
New Source of Mutations in Cancer
Recently, a new mutation signature found in cancer cells was suspected to have been created by a family of enzymes found in human cells called the APOBEC3 family.
Advancing Synthetic Biology
Living systems rely on a dizzying variety of chemical reactions essential to development and survival. Most of these involve a specialized class of protein molecules — the enzymes.
Biosensors on Demand
New strategy results in custom "designer proteins" for sensing a variety of molecules.
Unique Mechanism for a High-Risk Leukemia
Researchers uncovered the aberrant mechanism underlying a notoriously treatment-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia subtype; findings offer lessons for understanding all cancers.
Genetically Mapping the Most Lethal E.Coli Strains
New approach could lead to fewer deaths, and new treatments.
Pumpjack" Mechanism for Splitting and Copying DNA
High-resolution structural details of cells' DNA-replicating proteins offer new insight into how these molecular machines function
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!