Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential New Target For Skin Cancer Treatment

Date:
October 5, 2006
Source:
University of Virginia Health System
Summary:
When normal skin cells become a melanoma tumor, they sometimes turn on genes not usually found in the skin. According to researchers at the University of Virginia Health System, some of these genes are normally active in the male testis at the time sperm are formed. The genes, called cancer-testis antigens, could be useful targets for drugs that could selectively kill a melanoma tumor, while sparing the rest of the body's tissues.

When normal skin cells become a melanoma tumor, they sometimes turn on genes not usually found in the skin. According to researchers at the University of Virginia Health System, some of these genes are normally active in the male testis at the time sperm are formed.

The genes, called cancer-testis antigens, could be useful targets for drugs that could selectively kill a melanoma tumor, while sparing the rest of the body's tissues. The antigens could also help researchers develop a vaccine to stimulate the immune system to attack and suppress melanoma tumors.

"Scientists are beginning to see patterns in the profile of genes expressed in individual tumor cells," said John C. Herr, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at UVa and a scientist at the UVa Cancer Center. " Patients who express a given cancer-testis antigen may eventually be helped by such selective therapies. This scenario represents one aspect of the growing opportunities envisioned for personalized medicine."

Scientists at the UVa Cancer Center have studied melanoma tumors from patients at various stages of the disease over the last few years. They discovered that more than half of these tumors made the cancer-testis antigens, called SPANX proteins. In a study published in the Sept. 29, 2006 online edition of the Journal Molecular Human Reproduction, Herr and his UVa research team showed that the SPANX proteins play a role in the formation of the nuclear envelope of the developing human spermatid.

"The SPANX proteins appear at the last stages of sperm production, " explained Anne Westbrook, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher in UVa's department of biochemistry and molecular genetics. "Interestingly, the SPANX proteins remain restricted to regions of the nuclear envelope that do not touch the acrosome, an organelle involved in fertilization."

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System first identified and named the SPANX gene family in 2000. "UVa continues to make strides in understanding select areas of the human genome," Herr said. "Although the X chromosome on which these genes lie is often associated with determination of female gender, in this case the X chromosome contains genes involved in formation of the sperm. This gene family is now attracting considerable interest from other groups."

For example, scientists at the National Cancer Institute recently discovered that the SPANX family represents one of the most rapidly evolving regions of the human genome. The five SPANX genes appear to have evolved by gene duplication from a single common ancestor since the rise of hominoids. African great apes like chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans have SPANX, but monkeys do not.

"SPANX represents a rapidly evolving gene family located on the X chromosome involved in the development of the spermatid nucleus," Herr said.

"While our recent findings represent an important step in our knowledge, the overall role of SPANX proteins in reproduction and the precise molecular pathways in which they function in the testis remain to be explored."

One of the intriguing features about the SPANX proteins is that two gene locations, for familial forms of prostate and testicular cancer, map to the SPANX region on the X chromosome. "These findings underscore the need to better understand the function of this rapidly evolving gene family" Herr said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Virginia Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Virginia Health System. "Potential New Target For Skin Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191037.htm>.
University of Virginia Health System. (2006, October 5). Potential New Target For Skin Cancer Treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191037.htm
University of Virginia Health System. "Potential New Target For Skin Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191037.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins