Otago research makes advances in battle against cancer

University of Otago scientists have uncovered how a key protein is involved in the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.


Research into the protein PAX8, undertaken by Prof Mike Eccles and his team, has just been published in an high-ranking international journal. Reporting for the Otago Daily Times, John Gibb explains the implications of the research.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Research could be used to help fight cancer

University of Otago research into cancer-enabling genes could be used to help develop therapies to fight certain cancers, including kidney and ovarian cancer.

The research builds on the university’s earlier discovery that PAX genes, important in embryonic development, also allow cancer cells to grow and divide in adult tissue.

The world-first research in 2003, led by Otago researcher Prof Michael Eccles, found proteins from one or more of the nine PAX genes were present in many common cancers.

By “silencing” the gene expression of PAX2 in ovarian and bladder cancer cells, and of PAX3 in melanoma, the researchers found the cancer cells rapidly died out.

The latest findings, published in the British journal, Oncogene, showed that silencing the gene also had a dramatic effect on tumour cells, but through a different mechanism.