AsianScientist (March. 01, 2023) – Researchers from the Pusan National University in South Korea have found that a gene called SURF4 can help regulate progression of leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Leukemia killed 330,000 people in 2019 alone, according to a study published in the Journal of Oncology. Leukemia is also the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in children younger than five years old, placing an enormous strain on individuals and families, globally.
Broadly, there are two types of leukemia– chronic leukaemia develops over months to years, whereas acute leukaemia progresses rapidly. The severity of the condition has motivated extensive studies to understand how to manage or treat leukaemia. For instance, an amino acid protein called Stimulator of Interferon genes (STING) plays a critical role in modulating anti-cancer response. An earlier study indicated that some other proteins such as signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) work with STING to exert their anti-cancer effects.
Researchers have known that a gene called surfeit 4 (SURF4) produces its protein, SURF4, in higher quantities in such cancers. This protein binds to STING, preventing it from regulating cancer growth. However, the mechanism by which SURF4 affects the functioning of STING was not clear.
In order to understand that a team headed by Dongjun Lee from the Department of Convergence Medicine, and Yun Hak Kim from the Department of Biomedical Informatics, from the Pusan National University conducted a series of experiments, which could potentially help researchers develop a treatment for leukaemia.
To find SURF4 protein’s role in leukaemia, the Pusan researchers compared the expression levels of SURF4 gene among leukaemia patients. They found that the patients with higher SURF4 protein levels have lesser survival rates. But when the researchers injected SURF4-suppressed cells in the tumors of lab rodents, the tumour growth was arrested, suggesting that suppressing levels of SURF4 protein can regulate leukemia progression. The study was published in Cancer Communications.
“Our work clearly indicates the role of SURF4 gene in myeloid leukaemia”, said Lee in an article published by Pusan National University. “Myeloid leukemic cells are more effectively eradicated when SURF4 is depleted in conjunction with other anti-cancerous drugs.”
The study findings pave the way for novel approaches to diagnosing and treating myeloid leukaemia and other forms of blood cancer.
“This is something that hasn’t happened in four decades“, said Lee in the article.
Source: Pusan National University ; Image: Shutterstock
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