The most popular belief, in the development of cancer cells, has been that genes suddenly mutate, likely with the aid of outside sources or random selection. These genes continue to split spreading their mutation until it’s too late and cancer has formed.
But this theory, common as it may be, is one that leaves researches wondering why they find cancer genes in perfectly normal cells that remain unaffected. What else is needed to make a cancer?
Ten years ago, Dr. Leonard Zon, Boston Children’s Hospital, along with Dr. Charles Kaufman and colleagues asked the same question. Taking human BRAF & P53 genes, two types of gene mutations found in melanoma, they were implanted into the pigmented skin cells of Zebra fish. This tiny fish is transparent, allowing researchers to visually track the pigmented cells. The belief was if all that if genes were needed for cancer to develop the fish would “explode with melanoma.” However, the results only found melanoma in one to three melanomas per fish. This led Dr. Zon to look further, and then he found it, the CRESTIN gene.
The Crestin gene is normally only activated in cells early on in the embryonic stages in the neural crest, a region next to the brain. Depending on where they are in the embryo, these cells turn into pigmented skin cells or cells that make up bones, teeth, etc. And, once they develop the crestin shuts down and is no longer active.
But, in the Zebra fish study, it was found that not every crestin gene shut down. Rather those that remained active reverted back to their primitive state, leaving their undetermined. Now, marked with a fluorescent dye these cells left a glowing green trail as they continued to split and mutate, as the cancer formed.
We are closer to knowing the “what”, now researches continue to probe further to learn “why.”
-Information on the study was taken from NYT January 28, 2016-
Rabin Medical Center’s Davidoff Cancer Center is the leading oncology center in Israel and the Middle East delivering comprehensive medical treatment to over 16% of Israel’s cancer patients.
As research is a vital component in the fight against malignant diseases. The Charles E. Trobman Oncology Data Management Center is at the core of many of the Davidoff Center’s research efforts, with many important clinical trials in the field of oncology having been pursued over the years in areas relating to breast, gastro-intestinal, hematology, lung, genito-urinary, brain and other malignancies.
American Friends of Rabin Medical Center continues to support the vital research at Rabin Medical Center. Click HERE for more information about AFRMC and the how you can participate in our 2016 New York Events which include;
Broadway Benefit for AML Research, April 11, 2016, NYC
Golf Outing to benefit Prostate Cancer research, May 10, 2016, Quaker Ridge, Scarsdale, NY
NY Schlep 5K Run/ Walk, June 5, 2016, Battery Park, NYC