July 7, 2008

Study Uncovers Process Involved in Cancer

U.S. and Israeli medical researchers say they have discovered one of the factors involved in mitosis -- the ability of cells to daily divide and replicate.

Since an inability to control mitosis is one of the hallmarks of cancer, the discovery by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, might help increase the efficiency of cancer drugs that disrupt DNA replication, such as gemcitabine, or drugs that prevent mitosis, like paclitaxel.

Little has been known about the biochemical processes that control mitosis but in the new study the scientists discovered a novel activity called the mitotic checkpoint factor 2. They said MCF2 appears to be integral in preventing cells that are unable to equally separate their chromosomes from dividing. Although the proteins involved in MCF2 are as yet unidentified, the scientists say their findings offer insight into a fundamental question of biology.

The study led by Tim Yen of Fox Chase and Avram Hershko of Technion appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.