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  • A study identifies two new genes that halt larynx cancer

    October 08, 2013

    Researchers from the University of Oviedo, the Institute of Oncological and Molecular Medicine of Asturias and the Central University Hospital of Asturias sequence the genome of patients with this kind of tumor

    A research led by the Tenured Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Oviedo, Carlos López-Otín, has identified two new types of genes that halt larynx cancer. The discovery has been based on the sequencing of the genome of patients with this type of tumor and the results of the project are being published today by the NatureCommunication journal.

    The research, which has been funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Botín Foundation, the María Cristina Masaveu Peterson Foundation, the Cajastur Social Foundation and the Carlos III Health Institute, has been based on a new-generation sequencing method, a technology that allows researchers to know the complete genome of a person in a fast and precise way.

    Thus, scientists from the University of Oviedo, the Institute of Oncological and Molecular Medicine of Asturias (IMOMA) and the Central University Hospital of Asturias, led by López-Otín, have discovered that the genes that codify the alpha-cadenines 2 and 3, two proteins involved in the process of cellular interaction, are mutated and inactive in 15% of the cases of larynx cancer.

    The practical application of this work, published in NatureCommunications, may range "from the introduction of better methods to anticipate the diagnosis of patients of this type of cancer, to the future development of new therapies".

    The team sequence the complete exome (the part of the genome that codifies all the proteins of a cell) of four malign larynx tumors and, after identifying the common mutated genes, analyzed said genes in 85 additional samples of larynx cancer, until they concluded that the genes of the alpha-catenines 2 and 3 were frequently mutated in these tumors. Furthermore, they concluded that the inactivation of these two proteins favors the tumoral progression of cellular lines extracted from larynx cancers and cultivated in the laboratory.

    Moreover, when analyzing the clinical information of the patients studied, they observed that the tumors that have these proteins modified present a worse prognosis than the rest. Thus, "the presence of the alpha-catenines 2 and 3 halts tumoral progression, acting as products of new genes that supress tumors, since up until now their implementation in human tumors had not been identified", the team claims.

    Overall, the practical applications of these discoveries may range from the introduction of better methods to anticipate the diagnosis of patients of this type of cancer, to the future development of new therapies that are targeted specifically to counteract the alterations produced in the behavior of tumoral cells with mutations on these proteins".

    Authors:

    Miriam Fanjul-Fernández,

    Víctor Quesada,

    Rubén Cabanillas,

    Juan Cadiñanos,

    Tania Fontanil,

    Álvaro Obaya,

    Andrew J. Ramsay,

    José L. Llorente,

    Aurora Astudillo,

    Santiago Cal

    Carlos López-Otín


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