Blocking Oncogene Can Stop Spread of Ovarian Cancer

MONDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Blocking proteins produced by the oncogene MYC can stop the spread of ovarian cancer, researchers say.

An oncogene is a gene that has the potential to help cause cancer.

In up to 60 percent of human ovarian tumors, MYC is overly active. This causes the ovarian cells to produce excessive c-Myc, a protein regulator of other genes involved in cell growth, which leads to proliferation of the cancer cells.

University of California, Berkeley, researchers halted the spreading in lab cultures of human ovarian cancer cells with amplified MYC by using RNA interference (RNAi) to block c-Myc protein. They then used small interfering RNA (siRNA) to halt L-Myc and N-Myc proteins, a process that halted the growth of the non-amplified MYC tumors.

The therapies had no effect on lab cultures of normal ovarian surface epithelial cells, leading them to theorize that the RNAi and siRNA treatments are effective only when the MYC genes are abnormally active.

The findings are scheduled to be presented Monday at the American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting, in San Francisco.

More information

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has more about ovarian cancer.

SOURCE: American Society for Cell Biology, news release, Dec. 14, 2008

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