[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 7-Mar-2006
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Contact: Garazi Andonegi
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Elhuyar Fundazioa

Common properties in the genes implicated in the development of cancer

Two researchers from the University of Navarra, Javier Novo and Josť Luis Vizmanos, have performed a bioinformatic study on the genes which have been implicated in the development of cancer. The research project has been described in an article which will be published shortly in Trends in Genetics, one of the five best journals in the area of "Genetics and Inheritance".

This bioinformatic study has permitted the researchers to identify certain common properties in those genes which are involved in the development of cancer. Dr. Novo explained that "the objective consisted in discovering whether those genes which suffer translocations (breakages) in this disease have any structural or functional characteristics in common".

Concretely, the research project performed by the two scientists of the Department of Genetics at the University of Navarra has provided, for the first time, clear data which support the hypothesis that the most important mechanisms in the development of tumors are those which generate random breakage.

"When a normal cell becomes tumorous, one of the most important changes that it experiences is that its genome becomes unstable, and breaks in various places," explained Dr. Novo. Until now, there have been many examples of this kind of breakage published, "but it was not well known what caused them nor how they were produced; for example, if they were produced at random, or if there was something in the sequence which aided in their appearance in concrete locations."

Database with Genome Regions

The authors of the article published in Trends in Genetics have constructed a data base with all the regions of the genome which break in the various types of tumors. "Over the course of several months, with the help of students from the School of Sciences, we collected from the scientific literature all the breakages which have been described in relation to cancer, we located them in the sequence of the human genome and we studied the characteristics of the regions in which they appear."

Characterizing the processes which provoke breakage is one of the issues which arouses greatest interest among the scientific community. In addition, according to this researcher, "understanding the mechanisms by which cancer develops could mean a great advance in the struggle against this disease".

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