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JNU decoding answer to cancer
Jan 16, 2013

NEW DELHI: There is great excitement at Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of Biotechnology. Scientists here claim to have found that the SCO2 gene has potential tumour-suppressing qualities and that it can be a treatment for different kinds of cancer. Their research paper has been published in the current issue of the journal, Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Till now, it was known that p53 gene is a tumour suppressor protein and is involved in preventing cancer. But according to research studies conducted by the JNU School of Biotechnology along with Ohio State University Medical Centre and other universities, p53 recruits SCO2 gene and gives it this quality.

"We injected SCO2 protein encoded in SCO2 gene in both breast and colon tumour xenografts in mice. It resulted in consistent regression of these tumours. A combination of SCO2 along with cancer drugs like cisplatin and tamoxifen resulted in more than 85% hypoxic tumour regression in four weeks," Professor Uttam Pati, the lead researcher, said.

SCO2 enhances reactive oxygen species (ROS) production to activate apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) which then regresses tumour growth rate. ROS is a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell. A build-up of ROS in cells may cause damage to DNA, RNA, and proteins and may cause cell death. But SCO2 promotes ROS for a good purpose which is to activate cell death and shrinking of tumours.

But translating the finding into actual therapy may take time. "The finding that SCO2 is a potential tumour suppressor is an important step in our continued effort to understand the mechanistic causes of cancer. Gene therapy has not yet matured in clinical practice and needs work," head of research and healthcare innovations at Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center in Bangalore Dr Biju Jacob said.

"All genes involved in cancer cell metabolism are important and need to be discovered and understood. With advanced therapies in near future, cancer will hopefully no longer be a disease that will scare people," Dr S J Patil, consultant, Clinical Genetics Centre for Molecular and Metabolic Diagnostics & Research, Narayana Hrudayalaya Health City, said.

Ref: Times of India

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