Apr 14, 2020

Switching on a key cancer gene could provide first curative treatment for heart disease

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

This is huge news… heart disease is the number one killer globally.

“They found that Myc-driven activity in heart muscle cells is critically dependent on the level of another protein called Cyclin T1, made by a gene called Ccnt1, within the cells. When the Ccnt1 and Myc genes are expressed together, the heart switches into a regenerative state and its cells start to replicate. The results are published today in the journal Nature Communications.”

Researchers trying to turn off a gene that allows cancers to spread have made a surprising U-turn. By making the gene overactive and functional in the hearts of mice, they have triggered heart cell regeneration. Since adult hearts cannot usually repair themselves once damaged, harnessing the power of this gene represents major progress towards the first curative treatment for heart disease.

“This is really exciting because scientists have been trying to make cells proliferate for a long time. None of the current treatments are able to reverse degeneration of the heart tissue—they only slow progression of the disease. Now we’ve found a way to do it in a ,” said Dr. Catherine Wilson, a researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pharmacology, who led the study.

The cell cycle—through which cells make copies of themselves—is tightly controlled in . Cancer develops when cells start to replicate themselves uncontrollably, and the Myc gene plays a key role in the process. Myc is known to be overactive in the vast majority of cancers, so targeting this gene is one of the highest priorities in cancer research. Much recent research has focused on trying to take control of Myc as a means of cancer therapy.

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