November 26, 2007

Cancer resistant mouse with Par-4 gene

A mouse resistant to cancer, even highly-aggressive types, has been created by researchers at the University of Kentucky. The breakthrough stems from a discovery by UK College of Medicine professor of radiation medicine Vivek Rangnekar and a team of researchers who found a tumor-suppressor gene called "Par-4" in the prostate.

The researchers discovered that the Par-4 gene kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. There are very few molecules that specifically fight against cancer cells, giving it a potentially therapeutic application.

Funded by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, Rangnekar's study is unique in that mice born with this gene are not developing tumors. The mice grow normally and have no defects. In fact, the mice possessing Par-4 actually live a few months longer than the control animals, indicating that they have no toxic side effects.

The implications for humans could be that through bone marrow transplantation, the Par-4 molecule could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy

FURTHER READING
There are other promising cancer treatments

Dr Zheng Cui, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has shown in laboratory experiments that immune cells from some people can be almost 50 times more effective in fighting cancer than in others. The treatment is called "GIFT" (Granulocyte InFusion Therapy).

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