A new gene that is a direct cause of cancer has recently been found by researchers at Oklahoma University. The researchers were also able to suppress this gene, leading to speculation of revolutionary new cancer treatments.
RBM3 is the name for the gene and it’s protein, and is “vital for cell division in normal cells. In cancers, low oxygen levels in the tumors cause the amount of this protein to go up dramatically. This causes cancer cells to divide uncontrollably, leading to increased tumor formation.”
It was found that in many forms of cancer, and at every stage of the disease, “the amount of [RBM3] protein increased as the cancer grew. The protein helped the cancer grow faster, avoid cell death and was part of the process that formed new blood vessels to feed the tumor.” This process is known as angiogenesis.
By “silencing” the RBM3 protein, the researchers were able to greatly reduce RBM3 levels in cancerous cells. According to the study, “The approach stopped cancer from growing and led to cell death. The new technique has been tested successfully on several types of cancers – breast, pancreas, colon, lung, ovarian and prostate.”
The discovery of the cancer causing RBM3 gene, as well as the ability to limit its influence on cancer growth, makes the above research potentially monumental. Even if the specific technique used to silence the RBM3 protein is not practical for clinical implementation (it’s described as a “new powerful technology”), knowing the specific protein to target could lead to very efficient and practical techniques. As study author Shrikant Anant says, “RBM3 may be an extremely powerful tool against many and perhaps all solid tumors.”
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Anant, Shrikant. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center press release. April 2008.