Cancer Gene Identified

Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center say they've identified a gene that "may" play a role in at least two types of brain cancer. They say now that they know about this gene, they may be able to develop treatments for those cancers, as Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

Click to Listen

This may or may not be the gene that causes the brain cancer, but M.D. Anderson pathologist Dr. Greg Fuller says they dont think it's just an innocent bystander either. He says it may play a role in what he calls the "biologic behaviors" that lead to certain types of brain cancer.

"And so we are hopeful that by targeting it we can block those biologic behaviors, which would make the tumor much more amenable then to treatment."

Dr. Fuller's co-researcher Dr. Wei Zhang says this gene attracted their attention because it shows up in such large numbers in two types of brain cancer. He says if it proves to be part of the cause, it could also be part of the cure.

"We're working with our drug development group at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to develop small molecule agents, and also the antagonistic genes, the tumor suppressant genes, which we can use to block this oncogene, and we hope this will provide a very effective way of treating this dreadful disease."

Dr. Zhang says finding this secondary gene taught them to look past the primary genes in other types of cancer, and look at other genes in the background, and this could lead to treatments for those cancers as well. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.