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Cancer suppressing genes found

Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (UPI)
U.S. scientists say they have discovered a group of genes that act as barriers against cancer development.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researchers said they used a powerful technology called RNA interference, which suppresses gene activity, to screen hundreds of candidate tumor suppressors in living mice, using small hairpin-shaped molecules that attach to specific genes and switch them off.
The researchers said they discovered more than 10 genes whose deactivation accelerated the development of lymphomas -- tumors of the immune system -- in the mice. The study is said to be one of only a few RNA-based screens that have been carried out in living animals to date.
In addition to finding new cancer-suppressing genes, the scientists said the screen also revealed some information about tumor growth that will impact how cancer therapies are designed. For example, they said their study showed genes that act as tumor suppressors in lymphoma do not act as tumor suppressors in certain other cancer types, such as liver carcinoma.
"These findings imply that genes can act as pro- or anti-cancer genes depending on genetic or cellular context," said Professor Scott Lowe, who led the research.
That suggests drugs that might inhibit the activity of a protein that is a tumor promoter in patients with one type of cancer might be dangerous to administer to patients with another type of cancer.
The findings appear in the journal Cancer Cell.

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