Monday, April 10, 2017

The dirt in your backyard may hold the key to isolating cancerous tumors

University of Iowa researchers have found a gene in a soil-dwelling amoeba that functions similarly to the main tumor-fighting gene found in humans, called PTEN. When healthy, PTEN suppresses tumor growth in humans. But the gene is prone to mutate, allowing cancerous cells to multiply and form tumors. PTEN mutations are believed to be involved in 40 percent of breast cancer cases, up to 70 percent of prostate cancer cases, and nearly half of all leukemia cases, according to a review of the literature by the UI researchers. After some searching, the team found that an amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum has the gene ptenA, which mutates similarly to the human PTEN gene and causes behavioral defects in the cell. The researchers hypothesized that ramping up the presence of lpten, making it the star on the court, could overcompensate for the mutated ptenA. If their hypothesis holds accountable, it can lead to new ways to treat cancer. Read more here 
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