London, March 18 (ANI): Scientists have discovered a novel way to force cancer cells to grow old and die rather than killing them off with toxic drugs.
Cancer cells spread and grow because they can divide indefinitely, without going through the normal aging process known as senescence.
But a study in mice showed that blocking a gene in this pathway called Skp2 triggered the aging process, causing cancer cells to stop dividing and halting tumour growth.
Increased understanding of the Skp2 gene and its relation to cellular senescence may lead to the development of novel agents that can suppress tumour development in common types of cancer, researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Skp2 is involved in promoting cell cycle regulation, cell proliferation, cell growth and the formation of tumours, and it is over expressed in a variety of human cancers, according to lead author Hui-Kuan Lin, an assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.
Lin and colleagues found that inactivating Skp2 after oncogenes are overexpressed stifles cancer growth by causing senescence - the irreversible loss of a cell's ability to divide and grow.
Harnessing the power of cellular senescence to push rapidly dividing cells into a dormant state might provide another way to prevent or control common malignancies like prostate cancer.
The study has been published in the journal Nature. (ANI)