Breaking News
September 23, 2018 - Novel therapeutic strategy for blood vessel related disorders, such as cancer and retinopathy
September 23, 2018 - New naturally occurring antibiotic found effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
September 23, 2018 - First-in-human phase 0 study shows clinically-relevant activity of new drug in glioblastoma
September 23, 2018 - Removing tobacco product display from shops reduced number of children buying cigarettes
September 23, 2018 - Random fraction of specialized immune cells leads the charge in battling invaders
September 23, 2018 - Few minutes of sprinting exercise may be as effective as longer exercise sessions
September 23, 2018 - Researchers use neutrons to make first direct observations of water in lipid bilayers
September 23, 2018 - Researchers demonstrate pre-clinical success for universal flu vaccine in new paper
September 23, 2018 - Study reveals surprising gaps in some HIV medical providers’ knowledge of ACA
September 23, 2018 - Oxehealth secures European medical device accreditation for vital signs measurement software
September 23, 2018 - HTN Tx Intensification Common Upon Discharge in U.S. Vets
September 23, 2018 - Fibre can strengthen the intestinal barrier
September 23, 2018 - New platform examines infectious pathogens that may spread from animals to humans
September 23, 2018 - Demographers create detailed color map of population aging in Europe
September 23, 2018 - New type of fatty acid can slow down overreactive immune system
September 23, 2018 - Innovative procedure could provide breakthrough in treating early-stage lung cancer
September 23, 2018 - Research finds drop in number of measles cases in the EU/EEA since March 2018
September 23, 2018 - Researchers acquire new insights into DNA polymerases
September 23, 2018 - Alzheimer’s diagnosis might become simpler with new brain imaging method
September 23, 2018 - Reports Warn of Growing Opioid Crisis Among Seniors
September 23, 2018 - Researchers unravel why people with HIV suffer from more neurologic diseases
September 23, 2018 - Human brain structured to make best possible decision with limited resources
September 23, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Health on the hill
September 23, 2018 - Bad air and inadequate data prove an unhealthy mix
September 23, 2018 - Regular bedtime and wake time important for heart, metabolic health even among adults
September 23, 2018 - HIV and a tale of a few cities
September 23, 2018 - NIH launches clinical trial to test infusions of combination antibodies in people with HIV
September 23, 2018 - Researchers develop new system to detect consumption of synthetic cannabinoids
September 23, 2018 - Vax-Hub to influenze radical change in development and manufacturing of vaccines
September 23, 2018 - People who have slept lesser than seven hours have higher risks of car crashes
September 23, 2018 - an ancient art may work best to prevent falls in old age
September 23, 2018 - Consumption of foods with lower nutritional quality related to increased cancer risk
September 23, 2018 - Patient Health Information Often Shared Electronically
September 23, 2018 - Can machine learning bring more humanity to health care?
September 23, 2018 - Body organs undergo structural changes in response to diet
September 23, 2018 - Genetic polymorphisms linked with muscle injury and stiffness
September 23, 2018 - As states try to rein in drug spending, feds slap down one bold Medicaid move
September 22, 2018 - Why Eczema Is Tougher to Treat for Black Patients
September 22, 2018 - Team reveals that human genome could contain up to 20 percent fewer genes
September 22, 2018 - USC research uncovers previously unknown genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease
September 22, 2018 - Novel method achieves accurate and precise temperature estimation in fat-containing tissues
September 22, 2018 - BSI accredits Oxehealth’s vital signs measurement software as Class IIa medical device
September 22, 2018 - Evolution of psychiatric disorders and human personality traits
September 22, 2018 - Obesity in early puberty doubles asthma risk for boy’s future offspring
September 22, 2018 - World’s most advanced real-time patient monitoring platform receives key US patent
September 22, 2018 - Study explores connection between sexuality and cognitive status in older adults
September 22, 2018 - LSTM partners with TB Alliance to develop novel TB drug regimens
September 22, 2018 - Annual wellness visits improve delivery of preventive services in elderly population
September 22, 2018 - CHMP provides positive opinion to Cabometyx for previously-treated patients with hepatocellular carcinoma
September 22, 2018 - Hispanic communities with high proportions of Hispanics face more cardiovascular-related death
September 22, 2018 - Vici syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
September 22, 2018 - Single-dose drug can shorten flu symptoms by about a day, studies suggest
September 22, 2018 - AMSBIO launches circulating tumor DNA Reference Standards
September 22, 2018 - Sandalwood mimicking odorant could stimulate hair growth in humans
September 22, 2018 - Overlooked immune cells could play a key role in cancer immunotherapy, claims new study
September 22, 2018 - Study reveals prevalence of diagnosed type 1 and type 2 diabetes among American adults
September 22, 2018 - Researchers develop fast detection strategy to know type of virus acquired by patients
September 22, 2018 - Global Prevalence of Insufficient Activity 27.5 Percent
September 22, 2018 - Strategies to protect bone health in hematologic stem cell transplant recipients
September 22, 2018 - Brigham Genomic Medicine program unravels 30 medical mysteries
September 22, 2018 - New system harnesses power of bubbles to destroy dangerous biofilms
September 22, 2018 - Inflammation plays crucial role in preventing heart attacks and strokes, study reveals
September 22, 2018 - Calorie dense, nutrient deficient meals common across the world
September 22, 2018 - Researchers develop technology to study behavior of implants without animal testing
September 22, 2018 - First gut bacteria in newborns may have lasting effect on ability to ward off chronic diseases
September 22, 2018 - Detection of BFD virus in parrots in 8 new countries raises concerns for threatened species
September 22, 2018 - Insulin treatment shows great potential against chronic bowel inflammation
September 22, 2018 - ‘Liking Gap’ Might Stand in Way of New Friendships
September 22, 2018 - Simple factors that can avoid harmful side effects in type 2 diabetes
September 22, 2018 - ALSAM Foundation invests additional $2 million for drug discovery and development projects
September 22, 2018 - Study findings may advance discussion of how to effectively curb human-wildlife conflict
September 22, 2018 - Dopamine neurons may involve in conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to schizophrenia
September 22, 2018 - Protein C and Protein S Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
September 22, 2018 - Obesity and diabetes—two reasons why we should be worried about the plastics that surround us
September 22, 2018 - Concern over fussy eating prompts parents to use non-responsive feeding practices
September 22, 2018 - Novel mathematical approach uncovers existence of unsuspected biological cycles
September 22, 2018 - Cancer Research UK invests £14 million to transform London into cancer biotherapeutics hub
September 22, 2018 - Scientists predict how well the body will fight lung cancer by analyzing immune cell shapes
September 22, 2018 - New outbreak of rare eye disease identified in contact lens wearers
September 22, 2018 - Iterum Initiates SURE 2 and SURE 3 Phase 3 Clinical Trials of IV and Oral Sulopenem in Complicated Urinary Tract and Complicated Intra-abdominal Infections
‘Zombie’ gene protects elephants from cancer, study finds

‘Zombie’ gene protects elephants from cancer, study finds

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

An estimated 17 percent of humans worldwide die from cancer, but less than five percent of captive elephants-;who also live for about 70 years, and have about 100 times as many potentially cancerous cells as humans-;die from the disease.

Three years ago, research teams from the University of Chicago and the University of Utah, working separately, began to unravel why. They knew that humans, like all other animals, have one copy of the master tumor suppressor gene p53. This gene enables humans and elephants to recognize unrepaired DNA damage, a precursor of cancer. Then it causes those damaged cells to die.

Unexpectedly, however, the researchers found that elephants have 20 copies of p53. This makes their cells significantly more sensitive to damaged DNA and quicker to engage in cellular suicide.

In the August 14, 2018 issue of the journal Cell Reports, the University of Chicago team describes a second element of this process: an anti-cancer gene that returned from the dead.

“Genes duplicate all the time,” said Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and the study’s senior author. “Sometimes they make mistakes, producing non-functional versions known as pseudogenes. We often refer to these dismissively as dead genes.”

While studying p53 in elephants, however, Lynch and colleagues found a former pseudogene called leukemia inhibitory factor 6 (LIF6) that had somehow evolved a new on-switch. LIF6, back from the dead, had become a valuable working gene. Its function, when activated by p53, is to respond to damaged DNA by killing the cell. The LIF6 gene makes a protein that goes, quite rapidly, to the mitochondria, the cell’s main energy source. That protein pokes holes in the mitochondria, causing the cell to die.

“Hence, zombie,” said Lynch. “This dead gene came back to life. When it gets turned on by damaged DNA, it kills that cell, quickly. This is beneficial, because it acts in response to genetic mistakes, errors made when the DNA is being repaired. Getting rid of that cell can prevent a subsequent cancer.”

Elephants have eight LIF genes, but only LIF6 is known to be functional. Although it was only recently described, it appears to have been helping elephants and their relatives for a long time.

“We can use the tricks of evolution to try to figure out when this defunct gene became functional again,” Lynch said. It seems to have emerged around the time when the fossil record indicates that the small groundhog-sized precursors of today’s elephants began to grow bigger. This started about 25 to 30 million years ago. This supplementary method of suppressing cancer may have been a key element enabling enormous growth, which eventually led to modern elephants.

There are significant and lasting benefits to being huge. Small animals, for example-;mice, squirrels, groundhogs-;get eaten all the time, mostly by larger animals. But “if you are enormous, such as an elephant or a whale, nothing is going to mess with you,” Lynch said.

There are tradeoffs, however. Bigger animals have vastly more cells, and they tend to live longer, which means more time and opportunities to accumulate cancer-causing mutations. When those cells divide, their DNA makes copies of itself. But those copies don’t match the original. Errors get introduced and the repair process can’t catch up.

“Large, long-lived animals must have evolved robust mechanisms to either suppress or eliminate cancerous cells in order to live as long as they do, and reach their adult sizes,” said study co-author Juan Manuel Vazquez, a doctoral candidate in the Lynch laboratory.

These huge animals thus have higher odds of developing cancerous cells. This can also happen on a smaller scale. Taller humans, for example, have a slightly higher incidence of several cancer types than average sized people, and shorter people tend to be at a reduced risk for those cancers.

LIF6, the study authors suggest, was “reanimated sometime before the demands of maintaining a larger body existed.” It helped enable the growth of animals that were the size of a 10-pound groundhog into majestic creatures that can weigh more than 15,000 pounds. It was “permissive for the origin of large bodies,” the authors note, “but not sufficient.”

Exactly how LIF6 induces apoptosis, however, remains unclear. This will be “the focus of continued studies,” the authors wrote.

Source:

http://www.uchospitals.edu/

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles