Role of a Cell Adhesion Protein in Esophageal and Oral Cancers is Revealed

Cancers in the Esophagus and mouth are together placed as sixth most common cancer in the world. Experts from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered the role of a protein in the development of these cancers. The results of this study are published in the April 2011 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

Experiments carried out on rats have found that there is a lack of the protein p120-catenin when cancer develops in the body. The study has also confirmed the role of this protein in tumor suppression.

The researchers learnt that in normal conditions, this protein keeps the cells of the skin very closely forming a sheet. Lose of this substance makes the cells to fall apart. When cancer turns these healthy cells into rogue ones, it becomes easier for these unattached cells to drift to the fresh locations of the body and spread cancer there.

It was interesting to learn that the mechanism of working of this protein in experimental rats resembles the case of cancer in humans as well. Experts are optimistic of developing novel treatments for esophageal and oral cancers based on this knowledge in near future.

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