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Scientists demonstrate removal of certain genes eradicates brain cancer in fruit flies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Some brain tumors (in larvae) use the genetic program of germline cells to grow, according to scientists at IRB Barcelona. Removing these genes led to healthier brains in the larvae.

The finding uncovers a startling truth: These genes play a crucial role in the development of certain brain tumors, making them a potential therapy target.

Germline cells are those that can have their genetic material passed down to offspring, and have the ability to reproduce indefinitely.  

Tumor cells don't die when they are supposed to, resulting in tissue masses that interfere with organ functions in most cases. Many of these tumors activate specific genes of the germline cell line, causing the masses to live longer. Researchers for the first time demonstrated that silencing some of the germline-cell genes resulted in the disappearance of brain tumors in fruit flies.

Other types of tumors also activate germline-cell genes, such as those found in skin cancers like melanoma and certain carcinomas.

The IRB Barcelona research points to the development of new treatments and diagnostic markers for these kind of diseases.

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Review Date: 
December 28, 2010
Last Updated:
December 28, 2010