Changes in Gene Copy Number Sensitize Ovarian Cancer Cells to FDA-Approved Drugs, Study Finds

Changes in Gene Copy Number Sensitize Ovarian Cancer Cells to FDA-Approved Drugs, Study Finds
Gaining or losing a copy of a gene — a characteristic of cancer cells — disrupts specific signaling pathways and leads to cancer progression. Researchers studying these genetic alterations in ovarian cancer cells have found that a pathway involved in  autophagy —  a physiological process that deals with the destruction of cells — was the most affected by copy-number alterations. But a combination of approved drugs proved effective in eliminating ovarian cancer cells, including those that resisted standard chemotherapy. The study, "Haploinsufficiency networks identify targetable patterns of allelic deficiency in low mutation ovarian cancer," appeared in Nature Communications. "When most people think about cancer genetics, they think about single key mutations that foster tumor formation —very specific things like the BRCA genes," the paper's lead author, Joe R. Delaney, PhD, said in a news release. "These changes are often referred to as tumor drivers but these are not the only deviations that impact cancer growth. We explored other possibilities." The loss or gain of a single copy gene accounts for more than 90 percent of all genetic changes in cancer cells. Instead of the normal two copies of a gene — one from the mother and one from the father — cancer cells might have only one copy or three copies of a single gene. But researchers often look at particular gene mutations rather than copy-number alterations, leaving th
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Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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