A major gene essential for controlling the synthesis of hereditary material
and cell proliferation is also critically involved in determining the extent
of malignant growth of cancer cells, reports a study published in a recent
issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the new study, early cancer cells interacting with the
R2 gene became highly malignant, producing tumor-like colonies and metastatic
The study, performed at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology (MICB)
at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, confirms the R2 gene
as a key determinant of malignancy, say researchers, and suggests the great
therapeutic potential of two new cancer-fighting treatments that specifically
target this gene.
The developer of these treatments, Dr. Jim A. Wright, chief researcher
in the MICB study, said he believed it constituted "a vital step forward"
in the understanding of the specific genetic factors responsible for producing
aggressive malignant tumor growth. "We believe our discoveries will
not only help us in improving our understanding of cancer progression,"
he said, "but also in refining chemotherapy and gene therapy treatments
that directly modify gene expression and interfere with disease related
In cooperation with Dr. A. Young of GeneSense Technologies, a drug research
company in Winnipeg, Dr. Wright has developed two compounds designed to
act against the R2 gene, minimizing its ability to promote tumor cell growth.
These therapies, he said, are designed to keep abnormal cells at a precancerous
stage or in a localized, slow-growing tumor where they can be more effectively