An Indian-origin researcher at the University of Kentucky has led a team to create mice that are resistant to aggressive types of cancer.
The might of the mouse comes from a tumour-suppressor gene in the prostate called Par-4, discovered by Vivek Rangnekar, professor of radiation medicine at the UK College of Medicine, who had completed his doctoral studies at the University of Bombay.
The researchers discovered that the Par-4 gene kills cancer cells, but not normal cells.
“The implications for humans could be that through bone marrow transplantation, the Par-4 molecule could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy,”’ said the University’s media statement announcing the breakthrough. “If you look at the pain that cancer patients go through, not just from the disease, but also from the treatment, it’s excruciating,” Rangnekar was quoted as saying.
“If you have someone in your family, like I did, who has gone through that, you know you can see that pain. If you can not only treat the cancer, but also not harm the patient, that’s a major breakthrough. That’s happening with these animals and I think that’s wonderful.”
Funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Rangnekar’s study is unique in that mice born with this gene are not developing tumours, said the statement. Rangnekar says there is more work to be done before this research can be applied to humans, but agreed that it is the most logical next step.