Single Gene Mutation Induces Endometrial Cancer, UT Southwestern Researchers Find
News Feb 11, 2010
A mutation in a single gene can cause endometrial cancer that is responsive to a specific drug therapy, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found in an animal study.
The finding suggests that eventually it might be possible to screen women with endometrial cancer to see if they have that mutation and use the drug as targeted therapy, the researchers said.
“Our data suggest that deficiency of this gene can indicate both how aggressive an endometrial tumor will be and how well it might respond to a specific class of drugs,” said Dr. Diego Castrillon, assistant professor of pathology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the paper, which appears in the March/April issue of Disease Models and Mechanisms.
“Some early clinical trials have shown that about one-fifth of women with endometrial cancers respond to a group of drugs called ‘rapalogs,’” Dr. Castrillon said. “Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to predict which women these are.”
Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus. This cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive tract and is usually detected when a woman complains of excessive bleeding. About one-third of ovarian cancer cases are believed to begin as endometrial cancer, Dr. Castrillon said. The median survival of women with advanced endometrial cancer is one year.
The researchers focused the gene Lkb1, which is known to suppress other types of cancers. Mutations in Lkb1 disrupt its “braking” action on cancer and contribute to the disease in lungs, skin and other tissues.
In the current study, the researchers genetically engineered mice to inactive Lkb1 only in the endometrium. Without Lkb1, the entire endometrium became cancerous early and rapidly, they found.
The researchers found that treating the cancerous mice with the anti-cancer drug rapamycin slowed the progression of the cancers and shrank existing tumors.
“We hope that someday a test based on this gene or others like it might pinpoint which women would respond best to treatment with ‘rapalogs,’” Dr. Castrillon said. “Such personalized medicine could spare other women from unnecessary chemotherapy if their tumors are unresponsive to the drugs.”
Mechanism Controlling Multiple Sclerosis Risk IdentifiedNews
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now discovered a new mechanism of a major risk gene for multiple sclerosis (MS) that triggers disease through so-called epigenetic regulation. They also found a protective genetic variant that reduces the risk for MS through the same mechanism.
Synthetic DNA Shuffling Enzyme Outpaces Natural CounterpartNews
A new synthetic enzyme, crafted from DNA rather than protein, flips lipid molecules within the cell membrane, triggering a signal pathway that could be harnessed to induce cell death in cancer cells. Researchers say their lipid-scrambling DNA enzyme is the first in its class to outperform naturally occurring enzymes – and does so by three orders of magnitudeREAD MORE
Antarctic Worm and Machine Learning Help Identify Cerebral Palsy EarlierNews
A research team has released a study in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Bioinformatics showing that DNA methylation patterns in circulating blood cells can be used to help identify spastic cerebral palsy (CP) patients. The technique which makes use of machine learning, data science and even analysis of Antarctic worms, raises hopes for earlier targeted CP therapies.