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 tumor growth.
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 molecular pathways."
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 treated.