24 November 2009

Another target of antitumor therapy: the AEG-1 gene

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University, working under the guidance of Professor Paul B. Fisher, have identified a gene that plays a major role in two processes underlying tumor development, its growth and metastasis. They hope that the therapy, which consists in selectively blocking the expression of this gene, will effectively suppress oncological processes.

The results of the work were published on November 16 in the preliminary on-line version of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the article "Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1) is a target gene of oncogenic Ha-ras requiring phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and c-Myc". The authors demonstrated that the gene-1 (astrocyte elevated gene-1, AEG-1), which promotes the development of cancer, is involved both in the process of oncogenic transformation (transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous one) and in angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels necessary for the development, growth and metastasis of a tumor.

According to Fischer, the expression of AEG-1 transformed normal immortalized ("immortalized") fibroblasts of the rat embryo into malignant cells, which, when injected into the animal's body, form aggressive cancerous tumors. These cells were also characterized by increased expression of genes that stimulate the formation of blood vessels. Using molecular biology methods, the authors identified the mechanisms triggered by AEG-1 and mediating oncogenic and angiogenic properties of this gene.

The researchers hope that a detailed study of these mechanisms will allow the development of new effective methods of treating cancer, which in the future will save a huge number of lives. They have already received funding to study the AEG-1 gene in the context of malignant brain tumors such as glioblastoma.

The AEG-1 gene was identified in 2002 by the staff of the Columbia University laboratory, which was headed by Fischer at that time. Subsequently, the association with the expression of this gene has been proven for various types of tumors, including glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, liver, breast, prostate, lung cancer, as well as squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus. Fischer notes that this relationship determines the importance of a detailed study of AEG-1 as a potential therapeutic target.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on EurekAlert: Researchers identify the role of gene in tumor development, growth and progression.


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