Genetic Link to Liver Cancer Found

Mice without gene didn't develop tumors in lab tests

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WEDNESDAY, April 14, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A gene that causes liver cancer in mice has been identified by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

When the researchers deleted the gene, called Foxm1b, from liver cells in lab mice, the animals didn't develop tumors. The mice with the deleted gene remained cancer-free even when the researchers tried to use artificial means to induce tumors.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time a gene has been directly linked to the growth of cancer cells in live animals," lead investigator Robert Costa, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, said in a prepared statement.

The research appeared in a recent issue of Genes and Development.

"Foxm1b is expressed in many different kinds of cancer cells, which leads us to believe it plays a key role in promoting the growth of tumors other than liver cancer," Costa added.

He and his colleagues have created a prototype for a drug to block Foxm1b activity and starve tumor cells of the protein manufactured by Foxm1b. Depriving tumors of this protein prevents them from multiplying.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about liver cancer.

SOURCE: University of Illinois at Chicago, news release, April 2004

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