Two Genes Found to Trigger Cancer
Scientists say they have learned how two genes trigger the cancer process, a discovery that may aid in the development of more specific cancer treatments.
The two cancer-related genes are called "myc" and "ras." Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., found that when these two genes mutate, they spur uncontrolled cell growth that leads to cancer.
During normal cell function, myc regulates cell growth and ras works as a signal transmitter between cells. But when ras mutates, myc accumulates in the cell and can't regulate itself, causing cells to multiply rapidly, researchers report in the Feb. 26 issue of Molecular Cell.
Researchers suggest understanding the breakdown of these genes can improve current treatments, particularly for brain, colorectal and uterine cancers.
"The key to developing better therapeutics for cancer is using the information learned about interactions such as that of ras and myc to design drugs that interfere with these oncogenic processes," says genetic scientists Joseph Nevins.
--By Katrina Woznicki