Oncogene-Induced Cell Senescence Key to Cancer

Research into phenomenon could lead to better understanding of tumor growth

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Understanding the mechanism of oncogene-induced cell senescence could provide vital insight into cancer risk, kinetics and treatment, according to an article published in the Sept. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wolter J. Mooi, M.D., of the Vrije University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a colleague write that several factors could explain why small neoplastic lesions fail to grow into overt cancers, such as the rarity of multiple oncogenic mutations and the absence of the ability to produce vascular stroma.

"Moreover, apoptotic cell death may be triggered by oncogene-driven cellular proliferation, either directly, or by means of the activation of nearby natural killer cells and other immune cells," they write. Susceptibility to cancer is likely caused by faults in the anti-proliferation mechanism that usually blocks the growth of early neoplastic cells. This phenomenon has been noted even in malignant tumors, in which many cells fail to multiply.

"Investigations of the effects of oncogene-driven mitogenic signaling may have diagnostic and prognostic applications, may lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms halting neoplastic growth, and may identify targets for new strategies of cancer prevention and treatment," the authors write.

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