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Can Tomato Gene Inhibit Brain Tumour – Gene Therapy

According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 22,070 new cases of brain tumour in 2009 in the United States, resulting in 12,920 deaths. Brain tumour is of two kinds. They are cancerous (called Malignant) and non-cancerous (called benign). Both these types of brain tumour involve abnormal and uncontrolled division of brain cells. No specific clinical symptom exists for brain tumours. If the tumour is in its initial stages, it is removed by surgery. After the stage of metastasis, the technique of radiotherapy is employed to deal with the advanced stage tumour. But these techniques are costly, painful and partly effective.

Researchers are exploring ways to treat cancer in novel ways. In this context, scientists at the Department of Biology, Lund University in collaboration with their colleagues in Stockholm and Copenhagen have found that a tomato gene has the potential to treat brain tumour in the future. The treatment technique is based on Gene therapy. The results of the findings are published in the March edition of the journal Neuro-Oncology. This article tries to gain further insight on this topic.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • Genes are the chemical instructions followed by the cells of our body to function properly.
  • In gene therapy, a foreign gene is introduced into the cancerous tumour.
  • Along with the help of a drug, the gene compels the cancer cells to commit suicide.
  • Though the tumour is not eradicated completely, the disease is inhibited for a couple of years.
  • The discovered gene plays a vital role in the genetic make-up of the tomato plant.
  • AZT, a drug initially developed to fight against HIV can combine with this gene to transform it into a suicide gene of cancer.
  • The research found that the discovered tomato gene is associated with the release of an enzyme called thymidine kinase.
  • Enzymes are naturally occurring chemical substances which either initiate or speed up chemical reactions in our body.

Application of gene therapy in treating cancer is already prevalent in Finland. The present research on tomato gene provides a superior alternative to the existing treatment options. Further research on this topic is to be carried out jointly by researchers from Kuopio, Finland and Lund University.

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