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 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,800+ 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

New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer and that, when deleted in the lungs of mice, prevents the cancer from forming.
Friday, July 22, 2016
New Method Detects Telomere Length for Research into Cancer, Aging
UT Southwestern Medical Center cell biologists have identified a new method for determining the length of telomeres, the endcaps of chromosomes, which can influence cancer progression and aging.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Enzyme Link Between Excessive Heart Muscle Growth, Cancer Growth
Researchers at UTSW have found that the drugs currently used to inhibit these enzymes in cancer may also be effective in treating enlargement of the heart muscle.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Treatment of Common Prostate Cancer
Researchers at UTSW have found that the prostate cancer treatments suppress immune response and may promote relapse.
Friday, April 08, 2016
A Metabolic Twist that Drives Cancer Survival
A novel metabolic pathway that helps cancer cells thrive in conditions that are lethal to normal cells has been identified.
Friday, April 08, 2016
Novel Metabolic Twist that Drives Cancer Survival
Researchers at CRI at UT Southwestern have identified a novel metabolic pathway that helps cancer cells thrive in conditions that are lethal to normal cells.
Thursday, April 07, 2016
Structure of Crucial Enzyme Identified
Researchers at UTSW have determined the atomic structure of an enzyme that plays an essential role in cell division and better treatment of cancer.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Mutation That Causes Rare Disease
A mutation has been discovered that causes a rare systemic disorder known as XLPDR and confirmed a role for nucleic acids in immune function.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Promoting Liver Tissue Regeneration
Researchers at CRI have reported that inactivating a certain protein-coding gene promotes liver tissue regeneration in mammals.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Lupus Study Shows Precision Medicine’s Potential to Define the Genetics of Autoimmune Disease
Researchers at UT Southwestern have used next-generation DNA sequencing technology to identify more than 1,000 gene variants that affect susceptibility to SLE.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Researchers Find New Cytoplasmic Role
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found new cytoplasmic role for proteins linked to neurological diseases, cancers.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Researchers’ Work Shines LIGHT on how to Improve Cancer Immunotherapy
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have reported a strategy to make a major advancement in cancer treatment.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
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
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Miracle Diagnostic or Next New Fad?
Thanks to the development of highly specific gene-amplification and sequencing technologies liquid biopsies access more biomarkers relevant to more cancers than ever before.
Colon Cancer Blocked in Mice
Case Western Reserve University Researchers block common type of colon cancer tumour in mice, laying groundwork for human clinical trial.
Discovered Through ‘Big Data’ Analysis
Researchers at the SBP have identified over 100 new genetic regions that affect the immune response to cancer.
New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer and that, when deleted in the lungs of mice, prevents the cancer from forming.
Deciphering Inactive X Chromosomes
Untangling the Barr body of inactive X chromosomes valuable for understanding chromosome structure and gene expression.
Micro Disease-Detecting Senor Created
Researchers at McMaster University have created a microscopic disease-detecting sensor that can turn on to detect trace amounts of substances.
Liquid Biopsies Treating Ovarian Cancer
Researchers have discovered a promising monitor and treat recurrence of ovarian cancer. Detecting cancer long before tumours reappear.
Uncovering a New Principle in Chemotherapy Resistance in Breast Cancer
The NIH study has revealed an entirely unexpected process for acquiring drug resistance that bypasses the need to re-establish DNA damage repair in breast cancers that have mutant BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Understanding Treatment Resistant Melanoma
Researchers have determined how advanced melanoma becomes resistant; a development toward developing treatments.
Investigating ‘Black Box’ of Human Genetics
Investigations into inactive X chromosomes have shown unusual DNA repeat elements are essential for maintaining 3D structure.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!