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Indian-origin scientist identifies cancer’s food sensors

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London: An Indian-origin researcher from Oxford University has identified a protein used by cancer tumours to help them detect food supplies.

Initial results show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.

“We found that aggressive cancer cells manufacture more protein named PAT4 which enables them to make better use of available nutrients than the cells around them – including healthy tissue,” said Dr Deborah Goberdhan from Oxford University’s department of physiology, anatomy and genetics.

Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body’s nutrient-rich blood supply.

The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.

Dr Goberdhan and cancer researcher Adrian Harris collaborated to develop an antibody that could be used to highlight PAT4 in human tissue samples.

This was then used to study anonymous tumour samples taken from patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of the disease.

The results were compared to the known outcomes for the patients.

Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumours did less well than those with lower levels – being more likely to relapse and die.

The researchers then looked at what happened when PAT4 levels were reduced. They showed that by reducing PAT4 levels, cancerous tumours grew more slowly.

“’These findings support each other. Not only do higher levels of PAT4 mean a worse outcome, but lowering levels improves the situation,” Dr Goberdhan pointed out.

“This means that we have identified a mechanism which cancer cells prefer to use and which we might be able to target as part of a combination treatment,” he concluded.

The research was published in the science journal Oncogene.

(IANS)

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Males Have Higher Risk of Suffering from Cancer: Study

Researchers explain why cancer risk is higher in males

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Cancer
DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males. Pixabay

DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males, according to a new study.

In findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers have reported that loss of function in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosome, which is present only in men, may cause them to have an elevated risk for cancer.

Using data from 9,000 individuals, the researchers studied Y-chromosome gene function in patients with various types of cancer. The findings showed that cancer risk increases with loss of function of six key Y-chromosome genes in various types of cells.

“Recent studies have shown that complete loss of the Y chromosome, which is essential to foetal sex differentiation, occurs, with aging, in the cells of some men,” said study author Juan Ramon Gonzalez from Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.

Cancer DNA
Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome. Pixabay

“Although the loss of the Y chromosome has previously been associated with higher incidence of cancer, the causes of this association are poorly understood,” Gonzalez added.

These six Y-chromosome genes are involved in cell-cycle regulation, the failure of which can lead to tumour development.

According to the study, understanding the biological differences between men and women in cancer is crucial for the development of personalised lines of treatment and prevention.

“Men are not only at higher risk of cancer than women, they also face a worse prognosis. In fact, these differences partially account for the lower life expectancy of men,” Gonzalez added.

According to the researchers, although men may be more exposed to carcinogens due to the type of work they do and at higher risk because they are less likely to consult a doctor, the study has shown that there are also biological factors that increase cancer risk among men.

“In fact, it seems that one of these factors can be found in the Y chromosome, the very essence of maleness,” said study lead author Alejandro Caceres.

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Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome, which would explain previous findings, or as a result of other mechanisms mediated by the chemical (epigenetic) inactivation of the same regions, the research said.

“Certain environmental exposures, for example to tobacco or other harmful substances, could affect chromosome function and lead to epigenetic modifications,” Gonzalez said. (IANS)