• The University of Oviedo leads a research that links cancer with failure in the protection of chromosomes

    March 25, 2013

    The research, published in "Nature Genetics" and directed by Carlos López-Otín, Elías Campo (Clínic Hospital) and María Blasco (National Center of Oncological Research), detects for the first time in a human cancer the mutation of a gene that is essential to protect the telomeres


    A research published by Nature Genetics, and to which the University of Oviedo has made important contributions through the University Institute of Oncology, explores a new mechanism that may contribute to the development of diverse tumors, including chronic lymphatic leukemia, a form of cancer that affects thousands of new patients each year in Spain. The researchers have detected for the first time in a human cancer the mutation of an essential gene for the protection of the telomeres, situated on the edges of the chromosomes.

    The study may cast light on a new mechanism on the edge between cancer and aging, given the relation of the telomeres with both processes

    The research, directed by Carlos López-Otín, of the University Institute of Oncology of the University of Oviedo, Elías Campo, of the Clínic Hospital/University of Barcelona, and María Blasco, director of the National Center of Oncological Research (CNIO), breaks new ground for the Spanish Consortium for the Study of the Genome of the Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia ( Apart from López-Otín, Víctor Quesada and Andrew Ramsay, members of his team, have participated in the study./p>

    "The chronic lymphatic leukemia is the most common type of leukemia in the Western countries", comments López-Otín, and adds: "Once the genetic and epigenetic changes in its development have been deciphered, it is necessary to understand the biochemical mechanisms altered by said changes, in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this disease".

    Thus, following the previous research conducted by Campo and López-Otín and published in Nature and Nature Genetics during the past two years, the researchers focused on the mutations that affect the POT1, one of the genes involved in the protection of the edges of the chromosomes, the telomeres.

    It is the first time that a gene with this function appears mutated in a human cancer. Blasco remarks: "We have been studying the biology of the telomeres for a long time, since alterations to their maintenance are associated to cancer, and to aging as well. Although some mechanisms by means of which tumorous cells alter their telomeres are known, the mutations in POT1 reveal a previously-unknown route".