MAY 06, 2019 7:17 AM PDT

New insights on childhood cancer

Malignant rhabdoid tumor (MRT) is one of the worst cancer diagnoses a child can receive. While it is uncommon (or perhaps because it is), there are no standard effective treatments for MRT and most children will survive under a year.

MRT is so aggressive because it involves the loss of an anti-cancer protein called SNF5. The inactivation of SNF5 means that tumors are not suppressed; at the same time, the lost SNF5 also enables a pro-cancer protein called MYC to accelerate cancerous growth. Understanding this relationship has guided new research from Vanderbilt University, as scientists believe that targeting MYC in MRT patients might provide an effective treatment option.

"One of the difficulties in treating a cancer like MRT is that it's driven by the loss of a particular protein from the tumor cell," said William Tansey, PhD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. "Showing that MYC is activated by SNF5 loss identifies a target you can conceivably go after in these cancers," he said.

MRT cancer is one of the most aggressive pediatric cancers. Photo: Pixabay

MYC refers to a group of three related proteins that work as transcriptional regulators, meaning they control the expression of many genes linked to cell growth, proliferation, metabolism and genomic instability. In people with cancer, these proteins are expressed too much, which result in malignant tumors and cancerous growth. MYC overexpression leads to 100,000 cancer deaths annually in the United States.

Tansey and his colleagues are hoping that this new understanding of the connection between SNF5 and MYC proteins will promote future research in the field. As reported by Science Daily, the team of researchers utilized biochemical and genomic approaches to show that “SNF5 selectively inhibited binding of MYC to DNA, something that is required for its tumorigenic function. Accordingly, the reintroduction of SNF5 into MRT cells also displaced MYC from chromatin (the complex of DNA, RNA and protein that form chromosomes), inhibiting pro-cancerous gene expression programs.”

The research was published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

Sources: Nature Communications, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 28, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 28, 2019
Immunotherapy Drug Shows Promise for Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer
By the end of the year, an estimated 175,000 men in the United States will have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now, researchers from the UK have foun...
DEC 25, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 25, 2019
New Drug to Make Breast Cancer Treatment More Affordable
The US Food and Drug Administration has granted accelerated approval to new breast cancer drug, trastuzumab deruxtecan. The drug’s increasing recogni...
JAN 02, 2020
Cancer
JAN 02, 2020
The new "tumor-on-a-chip"
In order to mimic the microenvironment of a tumor in the human body, researchers from Kyoto University have developed a device that they are describing as ...
JAN 11, 2020
Cancer
JAN 11, 2020
Should we be concerned about talc powder and ovarian cancer?
After the outcry against baby powder and concerns regarding its link to ovarian cancer, still, no investigations have clearly linked the product to the dis...
JAN 20, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 20, 2020
Ovarian Cancer Protein Accelerates Alzheimer's Neurodegeneration
Around 21,000 people in the US are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, while an estimated 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Now, research...
FEB 14, 2020
Cancer
FEB 14, 2020
Cataloging Cancer: DNA fingerprints at work
New research published as part of a global Pan-Cancer Project highlights the world’s most comprehensive catalog to date of DNA fingerprints of cancer...
Loading Comments...