Israelis find key to containing cancer

05/08/2011 22:56

News From Jerusalem

Hebrew University researchers discover how a single gene can keep malignant cells from spreading to healthy tissue.

The red cells, tumor “micro-islands,” express a p53-suppressed gene. The green cells are rapidly proliferating due to p53 deficiency.

It is called simply p53, a short name that belies its starring role in halting the spread of cancer.

Israeli scientists already knew that when it is activated, the p53 gene produces a protein that can halt and even kill cancerous cells. Now, a team headed by Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah and Dr. Eli Pikarsky of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that p53 also governs a mechanism that keeps those deadly cells from invading healthy epithelial tissue lining the cavities and surfaces of many internal organs.

As the researchers described in the February issue of the journal Nature, the ability to "turn on" p53 could be a critical means of protection against colorectal and other epithelial forms of cancer.

Engineered mice yield surprising discovery

Building on earlier p53 studies by Dr. Moshe Oren of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who joined the current research team, Hebrew University doctoral students Ela Elyada and Ariel Pribluda spent six painstaking years engineering a unique mouse model to study the effect of p53 on the cell-invasion process.


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