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Cancer-causing mutations yield their secrets
Nature News ^ | 15 February 2012 | Heidi Ledford

Posted on 02/17/2012 11:05:15 AM PST by neverdem

Changes to metabolism disrupt cells' ability to differentiate.

The mystery of how mutations in a gene called isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) cause brain cancer and leukaemia is beginning to be unravelled. Researchers have discovered that the mutations cause the production of an enzyme that can reconfigure on–off switches across the genome and stop cells from differentiating.

The findings, published in three papers today in Nature1–3, could be used in the development of drugs for cancers with these mutations — a search that is already under way in many pharmaceutical companies.

Some cancer patients could benefit from new treatments that target mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 gene...


Chan and his coworkers showed2 that IDH1 mutations unleash what Chan calls “epigenetic chaos” by interfering with an enzyme that regulates the deposition of methyl groups on DNA. This ‘methylation’ can switch gene expression on and off. “It’s one mutation but it can reconfigure the on–off switches across the whole genome,” says Chan.

And Thompson, Chan and their colleagues showed3 that changing the methylation state of crucial DNA–protein complexes called histones prevents cells from differentiating. A lack of differentiation is a hallmark of cancer cells.

Altogether, the findings are “fascinating”, says Martin van den Bent, a neuro-oncologist at the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The methylation results, in particular, add to previous clinical studies showing that IDH1-mutant brain tumours have altered DNA methylation patterns.

“This work shows that indeed there is a causal relationship between the mutation and those methylation changes,” says van den Bent. “One gets the feeling that we are getting closer to the dream of developing a treatment for IDH1-mutant cancers.”

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Testing
KEYWORDS: cancer; celldifferentiation; epigenetics; genetics; idh1
Koivunen, P. et al. Nature advance online publication (2012).
1 posted on 02/17/2012 11:05:27 AM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Interesting article, but a little too scientific for the average person.

2 posted on 02/17/2012 12:59:48 PM PST by Eva
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To: Eva
Interesting article, but a little too scientific for the average person.

I'll take that as a compliment. Thank you!

How many people think cancer is one disease? Our society needs to understand more science. Take human embryonic stem cells and climate change. Think about all the elections we have lost because of ignorance about the science involved.

3 posted on 02/17/2012 1:27:19 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

Science is sadly lacking in our public school systems. It involves too much math for the average person. So, they have dumbed it down and “made it more relevant” to every day life. In other words, turned every scientific discipline into a course on environment or nutrition.

The average person doesn’t even know what stem cell are. All they know are the politics of the issue. So, I guess that you’re right. Another election issue that was voted on out of ignorance was the arsenic in the water issue. I read the whole Harvard Arsenic Study before it was put together as a position paper and the data simply did not support the premise. As a matter of fact, the two parts of the country with highest amounts of arsenic had the lowest rates of bladder cancer due to the high percentage of selenium present. What the data did prove was that selenium counters the presence of arsenic.

4 posted on 02/17/2012 2:27:18 PM PST by Eva
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To: neverdem

It is rather sad really.

Most people can and will talk about DNA, genes and genetics.

Very few understand what DNA does.

What it does is actually quite simple.

But almost nobody knows.

5 posted on 02/17/2012 2:32:28 PM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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