The discovery of a signalling pathway that forces cancerous cells to age could aid the development of a general approach for cancer therapy, a Nature study suggests.
Cancer cells are able to divide indefinitely without ageing. Pier Paolo Pandolfi and colleagues have identified a new pathway that drives cell senescence but only in oncogenic conditions. Loss of the gene Skp2, a key component of the pathway, profoundly restricts tumour formation in some mouse cancer models by causing cancer cells to age - in other words, it puts a stop to cell division. Furthermore, a Skp2-blocking drug is shown to induce ageing in a tissue culture cancer model.
This cancer-related ageing pathway seems not to involve most known mediators of senescence, and the fact that its effects become apparent only in cancer cells suggests that pharmacological blockade of Skp2 could prove a useful, universal approach for preventing and treating cancer.
Pier Paolo Pandolfi (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
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