Genes found to suppress leukemia

Kyodo

A team of international researchers has identified genes that work to check myeloid leukemia, according to their report posted Sunday in the online edition of the U.S. science journal Nature Genetics.

The genes, which are mutated in the case of myeloid leukemia patients, were found to suppress the growth of cancer cells through extracorporeal experiments, the researchers from the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and other institutions said.

The team believes the genes usually work to suppress the growth of cancer cells and could be useful for developing new drugs or treatments, as well as for providing prognoses.

Through examinations of patients suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of myelogenetic blood cancer, the team found that four types of genes — which produce the cohesin protein complex that coordinates gene action — suppress the growth of cancer cells.

Once they are mutated, the cohesin functions would be compromised, leading cells to become cancerous, the researchers said.

“Mutations tend to raise the risk of death and recurrence (of the disease),” said Seishi Ogawa, professor of tumor biology at Kyoto University.

“We would like to utilize the finding for patients’ prognosis prediction.”