Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Scientists Use Genome Sequencing to Prove Herbal Remedy Causes Upper Urinary Tract Cancers

Published: Monday, August 12, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, August 12, 2013
Bookmark and Share
DNA mutation "signature" identified in cancers linked to birthwort herb.

Genomic sequencing experts at Johns Hopkins partnered with pharmacologists at Stony Brook University to reveal a striking mutational signature of upper urinary tract cancers caused by aristolochic acid, a plant compound contained in herbal remedies used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments such as arthritis, gout and inflammation. Their discovery is described in the Aug. 7 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Aristolochic [pronounced a-ris-to-lo-kik] acid is found in the plant family "Aristolochia," a vine known widely as birthwort, and while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first warned of its cancer-causing potential in 2001, botanical products and herbal remedies containing it can still be purchased online. Moreover, the vine has been found to be an environmental carcinogen through the contamination of food supplies of farming villages in the Balkans, where Aristolochia grows wildly in the local wheat fields. For years, scientists have known of some mutations in upper urinary tract cancer patients exposed to the plant toxin. But the genome-wide spectrum of mutations associated with aristolochic acid exposure remained largely unknown.

For the current study, the Johns Hopkins and Stony Brook team used whole-exome sequencing on 19 Taiwanese upper urinary tract cancer patients exposed to aristolochic acid, and seven patients with no suspected exposure to the toxin. The technique scours the exome, part of the human genome that contains codes for functional proteins and can reveal particular mutations, in this case, those associated with cancer.

"Genome-wide sequencing has allowed us to tie aristolochic acid exposure directly to an individual getting cancer," Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., professor of oncology in the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center's Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics. "The technology gives us the recognizable mutational signature to say with certainty that a specific toxin is responsible for causing a specific cancer. Our hope is that using the more targeted whole-exome-sequencing process will provide the necessary data to guide public health decisions related to cancer prevention."

Specifically, Kinzler says they found an average of 753 mutations in each tumor from the toxin-exposed group compared with 91 in tumors from the non-exposed group. This level of mutation is more than that found in melanomas caused by ultraviolet radiation and lung cancer caused by smoking.

Members of the  toxin-exposed group had a large number of a particular, rare type of mistake (a mutational signature) in the ATCG chemical code of their DNA. The predominant mutation type in the toxin-exposed tumors (72 percent) was an A substituted with a T. In one instance, the scientists used the mutational signature to uncover an artistolochic-related tumor in a patient who was unaware of prior exposure.

This study illustrates how genomic sequencing could also be used to pinpoint a culprit carcinogen in some cancer clusters, says Margaret L. Hoang, Ph.D., lead author of the study. Cancer clusters are defined as an unusually large number of similar cancers occurring within a specific group of people, geographic area or period of time.

The research was funded by the Virginia and DK Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Further Information
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ 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

Paternal Sperm May Hold Clues to Autism
Tags on DNA from fathers’ sperm linked to children’s autism symptoms.
Friday, April 17, 2015
New Autism-Causing Genetic Variant Identified
Novel approach expected to be useful for other diseases too.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Bad Luck of Random Mutations Plays Predominant Role in Cancer, Study Shows
Statistical modeling links cancer risk with number of stem cell divisions.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Enzyme's Alter Ego Helps Activate the Immune System
Findings could shed light on related Alzheimer's protein.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Researchers Tease Out Glitches in Immune System's Self-Recognition
A new study revises understanding of how the process works and sheds light on autoimmune disease.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Cancer Leaves a Common Fingerprint on DNA
Chemical alterations to genes appear key to tumor development.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Researchers Use Human Stem Cells to Create Light-Sensitive Retina in a Dish
Johns Hopkins researchers have created a 3-D complement of human retinal tissue in the laboratory.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Signals Found That Recruit Host Animals’ Cells, Enabling Breast Cancer Metastasis
Mouse studies suggest that blocking aid from white blood cells and stem cells could keep tumors contained.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Common Genetic Pathway Could Be Conduit to Pediatric Tumor Treatment
Investigators have found a known genetic pathway to be active in many difficult-to-treat pediatric brain tumors called low-grade gliomas.
Monday, November 11, 2013
A Simple Blood Test May Catch Early Pancreatic Cancer
Currently, disease usually found too late to save lives.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
New Testing Strategy Detects Population-Wide Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Could speed mass intervention in developing countries.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Stem Cells may do Best with a Little Help from their Friends
“Helper cells” improve survival rate of transplanted stem cells, mouse study finds.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Molecular Marker Predicts Patients Most Likely to Benefit Longest From Two Popular Cancer Drugs
Preliminary study needs further confirmation.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Discovery Increases Diagnostic Certainty and Opportunity for Individualized Drug Therapy
Of the over 1,900 errors already reported in the gene responsible for CF, it is unclear how many of them actually contribute to the inherited disease.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Crucial Brain-Signaling Molecule Requires Coordinated Motion to Turn On
Study could help yield new drugs for brain disorders.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
Diagnostic Test Developed for Enterovirus D68
researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a diagnostic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory virus that caused unusually severe illness in children last year.
How a Kernel Got Naked and Corn Became King
Ten thousand years ago, a golden grain got naked, brought people together and grew to become one of the top agricultural commodities on the planet.
Sweet Revenge Against Superbugs
A special type of synthetic sugar could be the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs.
New Material Opens Possibilities for Super-Long-Acting Pills
A pH-responsive polymer gel could create swallow able devices, including capsules for ultra-long drug delivery.
How To Keep Your Rice Arsenic-Free
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have made a breakthrough in discovering how to lower worrying levels of arsenic in rice that is eaten all over the world.
New Tool For Investigating RNA Gone Awry
A new technology – called “Sticky-flares” – developed by nanomedicine experts at Northwestern University offers the first real-time method to track and observe the dynamics of RNA distribution as it is transported inside living cells.
Computer Model Could Explain how Simple Molecules Took First Step Toward Life
Two Brookhaven researchers developed theoretical model to explain the origins of self-replicating molecules.
New Tech Enables Epigenomic Analysis with a Mere 100 Cells
A new technology that will dramatically enhance investigations of epigenomes, the machinery that turns on and off genes and a very prominent field of study in diseases such as stem cell differentiation, inflammation and cancer has been developed by researchers at Virginia Tech.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!