Cancer Cells' Chromosomes Hint at New Treatments

A genetic aberration may lead to effective, targeted therapies

THURSDAY, Oct. 30, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- New cancer treatments may be derived from research into a condition called aneuploidy, in which cells have extra chromosomes, scientists say.

Aneuploidy usually results in birth defects or death, but the condition seems to benefit tumor cells, which are almost always aneuploid, noted Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers.

They analyzed the aneuploidy of four different mouse chromosomes and found that aneuploid cells all divided very slowly, grew too large, and displayed other metabolic changes that indicated that the cells were under stress and needed extra energy to cope with protein imbalances caused by aneuploidy.

The study was published in Oct. 31 issue of the journal Science.

Understanding the common traits of cells with extra chromosomes could help in the development of new cancer treatments, the group said.

"Now we can look for compounds that specifically kill aneuploid cells, or look for genes that, when you knock them down, kill aneuploid cells," study senior author Angelika Amon, professor of biology, said in an MIT news release.

She and her colleagues are screening a number of compounds and have already identified one that shows promise.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about cancer genetics.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, news release, Oct. 30, 2008
Consumer News