A group led by researchers at the University of Tokyo has discovered a gene that creates enzymes, enhancing cell growth of colon, liver and other cancers, according to their research report published Sunday in a British science magazine.

The discovery may lead to development of a new anticancer agent that has relatively few side effects if the gene and enzymes can be suppressed, the group said, adding it has already started a joint project with a pharmaceutical company.

The group, including Yusuke Nakamura, a professor at the university’s Institute of Medical Science, reported the research results on the Internet version of the monthly Nature Cell Biology.

The gene, named SMYD3, is found in almost all cells of colon and liver cancers, the group said.

Activating SMYD3 activates a set of genes associated with cell-cycle regulation, and this leads to the acceleration of cancer cell growth.

The group also found that genetic reduction of SMYD3 results in significant growth suppression.

It is still unknown how SMYD3 is activated in human bodies.

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