Cancer Research


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.


When motor neurons damaged by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, inappropriately send the wrong signal, immune cells react by killing the messenger. Their surprising finding provides new direction for therapies to treat ALS.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Don Cleveland, Ph.D., UCSD Professor of Medicine, Neurosciences and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and will be published online April 27 in advance of publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


A rigorous, long-term study of quality of life in patients who underwent one of the three most common treatments for prostate cancer found that each affected men's lives in different ways. The findings provide invaluable information for men with prostate cancer who are facing vital treatment decisions.

Researchers studied quality of life in men who either underwent radical prostatectomy, implantation of radioactive seeds in their prostate gland or had external beam radiation therapy. The three treatment options rank about equally in survival outcomes for most men, so specific impacts on quality of life become paramount in making treatment decisions, said Dr. Mark Litwin, the study's lead author and a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center.


Why do east Asian lung cancer patients respond better to chemotherapy than other ethnic groups? The answer could be useful in tailoring cancer treatments to individual patients.

"Genetic differences may help explain why so many Asian women who never smoked develop lung cancer," said Dr. Adi Gazdar, professor of pathology at UT Southwestern and senior author of a study appearing online today in Public Library of Science Medicine.


Proper formation of the proteins that power heart and skeletal muscle seems to rely on a precise concentration of a "chaperone" protein known as UNC-45, according to a new study.

This basic discovery may have important implications for understanding and eventually treating heart failure and muscle wasting elsewhere in the body resulting from burns, brain trauma, diabetes, cancer and the effects of aging, the senior author of the paper said. The finding resulted from experiments using tiny, genetically engineered worms at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), and is reported in a paper featured on the cover of the April 23, 2007, issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.