IMAGE: Human breast cancer cells (with nucleus in green) view more
Credit: Imperial College London
Scientists have unveiled clues about a mysterious molecule called Yin Yang1 – and revealed it may fuel tumour growth in breast cancer.
The findings, by a group of international scientists led by Imperial College London, may open avenues for new treatments, and help understand why some tumours become resistant to chemotherapy.
Crucially, the findings also reveal how tumours can change their ‘appearance’ to evade cancer treatments, using a system called epigenetics.
Yin Yang1 is a type of molecule, called a transcription factor, which help activate genes. Although each cell contains around 25,000 genes, only a certain number are switched on at one time, depending on what functions the cell needs to perform.
All cells of the body need Yin Yang1, but scientists were previously unsure whether it helped or hindered cancer growth.
To find out if it is friend or foe, the team completed in-depth genetic profiling of breast tumours from 37 patients, using a variety of different techniques, including the gene editing technique CRISPR.
The results, published in the journal Nature Medicine, revealed cancer cells are much more reliant on Yin Yang1 than
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