19 January 2006

Progress in the Genetics of Cancer

Researchers affiliated with Ohio State University have found a tumor suppressor gene that may open a door for new treatments of lung cancer and other tumors.

Researchers have identified a new and unusual tumor suppressor gene that may be important in cancers of the lung and head and neck. The study shows that restoring the inactivated gene can slow the growth of tumor cells.

The gene, known as TCF21, is silenced in tumor cells through a chemical change known as DNA methylation, a process that is potentially reversible.
Christoph Plass

The findings might therefore lead to new strategies for the treatment and early detection of lung cancer, a disease that killed an estimated 163,510 Americans in 2005. The study could also lead to a better understanding of the molecular changes that occur in tumor cells during lung-cancer progression.

DNA methylation is at the heart of this discovery. Wikipedia gives an introductory explanation of this phenomenon here.

The larger issue of "gene silencing" is discussed in this brief wiki article. For a more thorough understanding, along with CME credits, this 1.5 MB pdf file will give many people something to chew on.

hat tip eurekalert.

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