Cancer Research


A role for a microRNA in the immune system has been shown by study of one of the world’s first microRNA knockout mouse. The microRNA acts as a lynchpin to balance the response of immune defences and the researchers suggest the corresponding human gene will have a similar vital role.

MicroRNAs (also known as siRNAs - short, interfering RNAs) are short (22-25 base) sequences that do not code for protein, but can lead to destruction of other RNA molecules or can interfere with their translation. They bind to corresponding bases in the target RNA. The mature microRNAs are derived from larger precursor molecules.


A generation of children born with HIV are now coming of age and reaching sexual maturity. Girls in this group who are sexually active are experiencing a higher number than expected of cervical abnormalities, a new study finds.

Researchers monitored the rate of first-time pregnancies, genital health and Pap test results of 638 girls, ages13 and over, who became infected with HIV around the time of birth. Nearly 50 percent of the girls had abnormal cervical cells.


Ten genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes, a disease which impacts more than 170 million people worldwide, have been identified or confirmed by a U.S.-Finnish team led by scientists at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The discoveries could lead to the development of new drugs for diabetes, permit more effective targeting of drug and behavioral therapies, and help scientists and physicians better predict who will develop diabetes, said Michael Boehnke, the Richard G. Cornell Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at the U-M School of Public Health.


Scientists at The University of Nottingham have been awarded over £366,000 to help unravel the mystery of a stomach bug which causes gastric ulcers and cancer. Their research could lead to the development of a vaccine for those most at risk.


Studies of the enzyme CTP synthetase in the parasite Trypanosoma brucei have brought researchers at Umeå University in Sweden closer to a cure for African sleeping sickness. Their findings are now being published in the April issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Since the parasite constantly changes its surface, it can avoid the immune defense of humans and invade the central nervous system, which leads to personality disturbances, sleep disruptions, and ultimately death. For patients affected by a severe T brucei infection in the central nervous system, there are no medicines that can treat both subspecies without incurring extremely serious side effects.


Cell membranes are like two-dimensional fluids whose molecules are distributed evenly through lateral diffusion but many important cellular processes depend on cortical polarity, the locally elevated concentration of specific membrane proteins.

Roland Wedlich-Soldner at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Boston, The Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, have analysed and quantified how cortical polarity develops and how an asymmetric distribution of molecules can be dynamically maintained.


A new hereditary breast cancer gene has been discovered by scientists at the Lundberg Laboratory for Cancer Research and the Plastic Surgery Clinic at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden. The researchers found that women with a certain hereditary deformity syndrome run a nearly twenty times higher risk of contracting breast cancer than expected.

Several research teams around the world have long been searching for new hereditary breast cancer genes, but thus far few have been found.


University of Virginia researchers have discovered that microRNAs, a form of genetic material, can function as tumor suppressors in laboratory studies.

In the May 1 issue of Genes&Development, UVa researchers Drs. Yong Sun Lee and Anindya Dutta have shown that microRNAs can suppress the overexpression of a gene called HMGA2. This gene is related to creation of fatty tissue and certain tumors, as well as diet-induced obesity.

MicroRNA is a single-stranded RNA that is typically only 20-25 nucleotides long and is related to regulating the expression of other genes.



A Johns Hopkins team has stopped in its tracks a form of blood cancer in mice by engineering and inactivating an enzyme, telomerase, thereby shortening the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres.


A naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables as well as red wine, selectively kills leukemia cells in culture while showing no discernible toxicity against healthy cells, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. These findings, which were published online March 20 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and will be in press on May 4, offer hope for a more selective, less toxic therapy for leukemia.