Genetic Discovery May Be ‘Super Assassin’ of Tumor Cells, Researcher Says

Genetic Discovery May Be ‘Super Assassin’ of Tumor Cells, Researcher Says
The nucleotide expansions that cause a number of degenerative diseases may be the reason why these patients are far less susceptible to cancer, a new study suggests. A leading researcher says this discovery represents a "a super assassin against all tumor cells," including those in ovarian cancer. Researchers found that repeated CAG (cytosine-adenine-guanine) sequences in the huntingtin gene, which cause Huntington's disease, produce small RNA molecules that attack genes critical for cancer cell survival. These RNA molecules slowed tumor growth in several cancer mouse models, suggesting their potential as a new anti-cancer approach. The study, "Small interfering RNAs based on huntingtin trinucleotide repeats are highly toxic to cancer cells," was published in EMBO Reports. Patients with Huntington's and other degenerative diseases are roughly 80 percent less likely to develop cancer. Some studies have attributed this to the presence of trinucleotide (TNR) expansions. TNR expansions are a type of mutation where three nucleotides are repeated numerous times. Besides Huntington's, these expansions are responsible for many degenerative diseases, such as spinocerebellar ataxias, and spinobulbar muscular atrophy. These triplet motifs can be amplified not only in the gene coding region of DNA, but also in non-coding regions. In this cases, the repeats can form specific RNA structures that function much like small-interfering RNA (siRNA), targeting key su
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