Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Genes gang up to help cancer spread, study finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four genes gang up together to help cancer spread throughout the body, researchers said on Wednesday, including one affected by arthritis drugs.

And a second study found that 87 different genes work to help make cancer more vulnerable to drug treatment.

Both studies published in this week's issue of the journal Nature should help scientists develop more effective drugs to fight cancer, the second-leading cause of death in the developed world.

Cancer is highly treatable before it has spread. But once tumors break out of their initial spot in a process called metastasis, they are almost impossible to suppress for long.

Dr. Joan Massague, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and colleagues identified four genes that worked together to help breast cancer tumors spread to the lungs of mice.

The genes are called EREG, MMP-1, MMP-2 and COX-2.

Massague's team suppressed each gene one by one and found a small effect. "The remarkable thing was that while silencing these genes individually was effective, silencing the quartet nearly completely eliminated tumor growth and spread," Massague said in a statement.

The issue for me is finding the herbs and nutrients that work on EREG, MMP-1, MMP-2 and COX-2. This understanding of nutrients and herbs is important for cancer treatment.