Gene which can Halt Liver Cancer is Identified

According to the National Cancer Institute, every year 15,000 men and 6,000 women are diagnosed with Liver Cancer in United States. It is the fifth common type of cancer all over the world. In most of the cases, the origin of the disease is in some other organ in the body. But it spreads to the organ liver later. Researchers from the Chinese National Human Genome Center at Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, have identified the gene which has the potential to stop of the spread of Cancer (technically called metastasis). This article tries to get further insight on the research topic.

Basics to appreciate the research findings: Cancer is caused when harmful cells originate in our body converting health and useful cells in to malignant ones. The reasons of the origin of these harmful cells are not known yet. Initially, Cancer affects a particular organ in the body. But later the harmful cells spread to other remote locations of the body through blood flow. This is called metastasis. After this stage, cancer becomes incurable. A bunch of infected cells in any region of cancer is called a tumor.

Cells with which our body is made up of, contains chemical instructions in them called genes. Based on the genes of a body, its organs function. Genes exist inside the body in the form of twisted chemical structures. When there is any change in these structures, the genes or the chemical instructions are changed. This process is called mutation. Metastasis of cancer is caused by mutation of genes.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • Researchers identified a gene called SCARA5, which can stop the formation of tumor in liver.
  • Such genes which possess the ability to inhibit growth of cancer cells are called tumor suppressor gene.
  • Earlier research in this topic revealed that if tumor suppressor genes become inactive, then metastasis takes place.
  • The results were found to hold good on experimental rats used in the study.
  • They artificially made the gene SCARA5 inactive through a process called epigenetic silencing in these rats.
  • Rate of metastasis process increased as a result.
  • These findings of the research study are published in the December 2009 issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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