Canadian researchers have discovered the existence of 11 genes responsible for the spread of cancer. A major discovery that will eventually block more than 99.5% of cancer metastasis in living cells.
“A revolutionary discovery” of”incredible potential importance,” says John Lewis, a researcher at the Alberta Cancer Foundation at the University of Alberta in Canada, and a member of the Northern Cancer Research Institute of Alberta (CRINA), describing the recent discovery of his team. “Metastases kill 90% of all cancer patients, and with this study we found 11 new ways to end metastases,” he said. Their work has just been published in the journal Nature Communications.
As part of their research, the scientists have developed a shell-less avian embryo to better visualize the growth and spread of cancer cells in real time. They then inserted into the cancer cells small hairpin RNAs called shRNA — RNA is the acronym for ribonucleic acid, a biological molecule chemically close to DNA that supports cells in synthesizing proteins for which they can be used. need. These shRNAs are in turn RNAs adopting a stem and loop structure used to achieve the extinction of a target gene. Here, the researchers used them to bind to the 11 specific cell genes and prevent their activation.
The researchers then inserted these cancer cells into the avian embryo and observed if they formed cancerous clusters. Those identified as showing metastatic properties were analyzed and the gene responsible for metastasis extracted. In doing so, Lewis’ team was able to detect and identify 11 genes that appear to play a critical role in the metastasis of cancer cells. According to the researchers, these genes are largely involved in the process of metastasis, and not unique to a single cancer.
The goal of the researchers is now to test these genes in order to produce a treatment capable of stopping metastases. “We know that cancer, once it becomes metastatic, will continue to seed other parts of the body and the disease will progress and worsen because of it,” said Professor Lewis. “So, I think if we can stop metastasis at any stage of progression in cancer patients, we’re going to have a significant effect on survival.” Next step: clinical trials on humans in the next few years.