AsianScientist (May 24, 2011) – Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have uncovered the role of the PAX8 gene in a variety of human cancers in a discovery that points to a novel ways of treating patients with such cancers.
Professor Michael Eccles, who led the study published in Oncogene, also headed the team that, in 2003, were the first in the world to report that the protein products from one or more of the nine PAX genes were present in a wide variety of cancers.
Until then, the PAX family of genes were known to be important in embryonic development, but not implicated in cancer. They subsequently showed that silencing PAX2 in ovarian and bladder cancer cells, and PAX3 in melanoma, killed the cells rapidly.
Now, Eccles and colleagues’ investigations of PAX8, a gene important in thyroid development, has revealed that silencing this gene also has a dramatic effect on cells in several kinds of tumors, but through a different mechanism.
After detecting high levels of PAX8 protein in the vast majority of kidney cancers, ovarian cancers and thyroid cancers they studied, the researchers used molecular techniques to silence PAX8 in several cancer cell lines. They found that PAX8-depleted cells ceased growing and dividing, entering a state of senescence, and ultimately died.
Although PAX8 is a promising target for development of new cancer therapies, Eccles cautioned that any resulting drugs would be a long way down the road.
Source: University of Otago.
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