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Research institute discovers gene related to cancer growth

A team from the National Cancer Center Research Institute (NCCRI) announced in a science journal on Jan. 12 that it has detected a gene connected to the growth of numerous types of cancer.

    The research team is focusing its attention upon a protein created by the gene, known as IER5. Although the connection between the protein and cancerization was not previously known, an analysis revealed that the amount of the cancer-guarding protein found in tissues relating to numerous types of cancer, including colorectal, stomach and kidney, exceeded that of the substance in normal tissues. It has been found that IER5 works to protect cancerous cells which have been exposed to stressors such as low oxygen or nutritional deficiency.

    Experiments that the research team conducted utilizing human cancer cells revealed that the protein activates the movement of a different protein known as HSF1, which in turn works to create a protein called HSP that helps cancer cells bounce back from stress.

    When the function of the IER5 gene was restrained, the growth of cancerous cells became suppressed.

    It was found, moreover, that fatality rates were higher among bladder and brain cancer patients whose IER5 gene was working actively as compared to those in whom the gene was comparatively inactive, revealing the possibility of the gene's impact on the growth and metastasis of cancer.

    Rieko Ohki, senior researcher with NCCRI's Division of Rare Cancer Research, said, "We don't yet know how IER5 works with normal cells, but if we can locate a substance that prevents its function, it is possible that this may lead to the development of curative drugs that work to inhibit numerous types of cancer."

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