New gene suppresses growth of brain tumors

So far unknown gene slows the growth of brain tumors

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown gene that counteracts the growth of brain tumors (gliomas). As the researchers led by Professor Ruthild Weber from the Institute of Human Genetics at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) report in the specialist magazine "Brain", the gene contributes to the coding of a certain protein complex, which in turn has a "tumor-suppressing function".

In collaboration with scientists from the University of Bonn, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester (USA), the study leader Prof. Ruthild Weber has demonstrated that a specific gene contributes to the suppression of brain tumors. The gene, with its previously unknown function, leads to a "significant decrease in the colony formation, migration and invasion capacity" of certain glioma cells in homozygous (on both alleles of the genome), the researchers write. The current findings could possibly be used to develop new cancer drugs.

Gene encodes a tumor-suppressing protein complex The researchers led by Prof. Ruthild Weber discovered the previously unknown function of the gene in the study of glioblastomas, which are considered the most common form of malignant brain tumors. The gene was present in modified form in numerous glioblastomas, which caught the researchers' attention. Because “a gene in a tumor is inactivated, it is an indication that it has a tumor-suppressing effect,” emphasized the study leader Prof. Ruthild Weber. In further experiments, the scientists found that the gene encodes a specific protein, which in turn inhibits tumor growth. The scientists were able to confirm the positive effect of the gene both in experiments with mice and in vitro cultures. In rodents, brain tumors only became half the size if the discovered gene was intact, the scientists report in their article.

Researchers hope for the development of new cancer drugs Overall, the studies have shown that the discovered gene encodes a "protein complex with tumor-suppressing function in brain tumors", write Weber and colleagues. The researchers named the corresponding protein as "focadhesin". The current results also suggest that the discovered gene could also play an important role in other cancers such as breast cancer (breast cancer) or colorectal cancer, according to the scientists. According to the MHH, the current findings could possibly contribute to the development of new cancer drugs in the future. (fp)

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