It's All About the Cancer Genes

Genetic research identifies EPHA7 as potential non hodgkins lymphoma treatment

(RxWiki News) When a child does something well in school, parents are quick to boast about “good genes.” It turns out, genes control a lot of things including cancer.

Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have identified a protein that affects the growth of follicular lymphoma. This anti-cancer protein, ephrin receptor A7 (EPHA7) may lead to new therapeutic treatments and shows how important genetic research is to treating cancer.

Follicular lymphoma is a common type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Follicular lymphoma affects the immune system and is hard to control using current therapeutic tools.

Researchers, using genetic research, have found a protein, EPHA7, that is lost in follicular lymphoma. EPHA7 has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Scientists can use this knowledge and create new forms of treatment and drugs to combat the disease.

Researchers looked at chromosome 6 which has previously been linked to other diseases in humans. The researchers then narrowed their focus to the EPHA7 protein. EPHA7 limits the growth of tumors and is found in the lymphocytes, which are white blood cells in the immune system.

Since EPHA7 can be dissolved into water or purified, it can be easily changed to a possible treatment. When researchers applied EPHA7 to mice with lymphoma, it was effective in reducing the tumors.

According to researchers, EPHA7 may be a possible treatment in the future. It can be bound to antibodies, which are another group of proteins, and used for treatment against lymphomas. For the future, EPHA7 could be used for other cancers.

For Hans-Guido Wendel, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the senior author of this study, the discovery of EPHA7 highlights how important genetic research is in the fight against cancer.

By being able to focus on specific genes that affect cancer, new drugs can be developed that target those genes leading to more effective treatments.  

This study was published in the October edition of Cell.

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Review Date: 
October 27, 2011