Researchers in Britain – including three Greek scientists — have discovered a new gene that drives the development of tumors in over one percent of all cancer patients. This is the first time that the CUX1 gene has been conclusively linked to cancer development and could be the target of new medical treatments in the future.
Researchers discovered that when the CUX1 gene is deactivated it allows a “biological pathway” to activate, which causes the growth of the tumor. In cancer patients this inactive gene may be the main genetic cause for the disease.
The research team led by Dr. David Adams of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, published its findings in the Journal “Nature Genetics. ” The team includes three Greek scientists Konstantinos Alifragkis, Stella Lembidaki and Elli Papaemmanouil.
Dr. Adams stated that “If we understand the genetic code of cancers, then we will create targeted anti-cancer treatments which will be more effective.” The researchers analyzed genetic data from more than 7,600 cancer patients and discovered that in almost 1% of patients a mutation occurs which deactivates the CUX1 gene and favors the development of cancer.
Konstantinos Alifragkis, who studied medicine at King’s College London, now works at the British Institute Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Elli Papaemmanouil from Athens, studied Biology at the University of Glasgow and did her PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. Since then she has worked for the Cancer Genome Project. She became known worldwide when in 2011 she discovered the gene associated with blood cancer (leukemia). Stella Lembidaki graduated in 2009 from the Department of Biology from the University of Crete and received her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she currently conducts research in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.