SINGAPORE: Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a previously unknown mechanism of cancer formation, understanding which could lead to more effective treatment, the university said on Thursday (January 14th).
The results of the study, which involved 125 patients with liver cancer, relate to a process called RNA editing.
The TBEN of cells is transcribed into RNA before being translated into proteins that play specific roles. Sometimes RNA is “edited” before final translation, resulting in a different protein product, NUS explained.
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The study looked at the RNA encoding a protein called COPA, which influences the development of cancers of the liver, esophagus, stomach and breast.
The research team looked at cancerous liver tissue to see if the RNA transcribed from the COPA gene had been altered.
They found that any given cell contains a mix of edited and unedited versions of COPA.
“When unedited or ‘wild-type’ COPA is predominant, the cell is more likely to become cancerous,” NUS said.
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Conversely, when edited COPA is predominant, it is believed to suppress a particular “signaling pathway”.
“When this pathway gets out of hand, it triggers excessive cell multiplication which can lead to cancer,” NUS said.
The research team is now trying to find a way to stimulate the natural RNA-editing mechanisms in cancer cells to “tip the scales” in favor of the modified version, thereby suppressing the cancer, the research team said. university.
The results of the research team, led by Dr Polly Leilei Chen of the Singapore Institute of Cancer Sciences and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, were published in the Journal of Hepatology in July 2020.