Possible way to treat ovarian cancer reported

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Blocking certain proteins in cells may be a way to attack ovarian cancer, researchers said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology underway in San Francisco.

For growth and proliferation, ovarian cancer cells are “addicted” to a family of proteins produced by the cancer-promoting gene MYC, according to lead researcher Dr. Tulsiram Prathapam, a cell biologist from the University of California, Berkeley.

Importantly, Prathapam told Reuters Health, “Our results suggest that inhibition of MYC and MYC family members will have significant therapeutic value in the treatment of ovarian cancer.”

The MYC ‘oncogene’ is amplified in 30 percent to 60 percent of human ovarian tumors. Prathapam and colleagues observed that MYC-amplified ovarian cancer cell lines are dependent on MYC expression for continued proliferation, whereas MYC non-amplified ovarian cancer cell lines are dependent on expression of related MYC family members for continued proliferation.

The researchers found that blocking MYC inhibited ovarian tumor cell proliferation in MYC-amplified cell lines, and silencing all related MYC ‘isoforms’ led to growth arrest of MYC non-amplified ovarian cancer cells.

Prathapam’s team also observed that blocking the MYC family of proteins in normal ovarian surface cells did not affect their ability to grow.

A logical next step, Prathapam noted, would be to see if the strategy blocks ovarian tumor growth in mice.

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