Gene makes ovarian cancer resistant to chemotherapyPublished On: Thu, Mar 3rd, 2011 | Cell Biology | By BioNews
Researchers have zeroed in on a genetic process that may explain why ovarian cancer is resistant to chemotherapy.
They studied a tiny strand of the genetic makeup known as a microRNA, involved in the regulation of gene expression. Cancer occurs when gene regulation goes haywire.
“Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease because it’s hard to detect,” says biology professor at the York University Chun Peng, the journal Cell Science reports.
“By the time it’s diagnosed, usually it is in its late stages. And by that point, there’s really no way to treat the disease. Even when the disease is discovered in its early stages, chemotherapy doesn’t always work,” says Peng, who co-authored the study.
Peng was among a team of researchers that discovered a receptor, ALK7, that induces cell-death in ovarian cancer cells, according to a York statement.
They have now discerned that microRNA 376c targets this crucial receptor, inhibiting its expression and allowing ovarian cancer cells to thrive.
“Our evidence suggests that microRNA 376c is crucial to determine how a patient will respond to a chemotherapeutic agent,” says Peng.
“It allows cancer cells to survive by targeting the very process that kills them off,” she says.
Peng believes that this research is a step towards being able to make chemotherapy drugs more effective in the treatment of the disease.