High grade ovarian carcinoma is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in America, and there is little knowledge concerning the origins of the disease.
However, scientists from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell have joined forces on a research study that identifies the exact genes that delay or drive this life-threatening cancer.
John Schimenti, a senior author of the study and a professor of genetics from the Department of Biomedical Sciences, stated that he had teamed up with Alexander Nikitin, his colleague who is also a professor of genetics in the same department and the respective members from various labs to study and understand high grade ovarian carcinoma better.
For a long time, researchers studying cancer have known that the disease is usually caused by what is referred to as the multiple-hit hypothesis. Simply put, this means that one single cell mutates at least two or three times into a cancerous or malignant one. It should be noted that different combinations of genes may lead to the same cancer.
Schimenti added that in cancer research, the longstanding issues were the lack of knowledge about the genetic drivers as well as the passengers, in the whole process.
To tackle these issues, the scientists decided to test different combinations of potential genetic suspects then analyze which of the related mutations were causing the cancer. They did this using the Cancer Genome Atlas, a worldwide database which collects genetic information from samples of patient tumors as well as the mutated genes linked with them.
Using a list with 20 genes that are known to mutate into high grade ovarian carcinoma, the scientists used CRISPR, which is a technology that edits genes, to create random combinations of the mutations in culture cells extracted from the ovary surface. These cells included regular epithelial stem cells and epithelial cells, that way they could determine which the cell type was more susceptible to mutations.
The study indicated that surface stem cells from the ovary were more likely to become cancerous when exposed to mutations. Unexpectedly, they also found genes that when mutated, slowed down the cancer process. This knowledge is highly valuable, not only for ovarian cancer but for other cancers as well.
Furthermore, Schimenti added that the research findings could be useful to ovarian cancer patients who have had their tumors biopsied as well as sequenced for genetic data. He also said that this information could help make drugs in the future that targeted the mutated genes that causes the cancer.
This research is likely to be of great interest to 180 Life Sciences Corp. since it touches on a field they have great interest in.
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