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Gene linked to colon cancer

15th September 2008

Scientists claim to have linked a previously unsuspected gene with colon cancer.

Experts at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say the discovery of CDK8’s role in cancer was made possible by new tools for assessing the activity of specific genes.

As these tools are further improved, authors of a new report published in the journal Nature today believe the stream of newly discovered cancer genes will increase and potentially provide new avenues for therapy.

“This study provides confirmation that many of the genes involved in cancer have yet to be identified,” the study’s senior author, William Hahn, said.

“When it comes to identifying gene targets for therapy, we’ve really only scratched the surface.”

The authors also describe a protein produced from CDK8, which is part of the “mediator complex,” a conglomeration of proteins that serves as a bridge for compounds involved in gene transcription.

“This study demonstrates that blocking CDK8 interferes with the proliferation of colon cancer cells that have high levels of the CDK8 protein and overactive beta-catenin,” Mr Hahn said.

“Drugs that target CDK8 may be very useful against tumours whose growth is driven by beta-catenin.”

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