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IMAGE: When mammary epithelial cells are grown in a 3D culture matrix, they proliferate and form hollow colonies that mimic the organization of an epithelial tissue. 3D cultures of control cells… view more 

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Credit: Created by Paula Traktman from images appearing in Figure 5C of the September 4, 2018 article by Mon, MacKinnon and Traktman, as allowed by the Creative Commons License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)…

Sometimes negative results can point researchers in the right direction.

In results published in PLOS ONE on September 4, 2018, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) examined a protein called vaccinia-related kinase 1 (VRK1) that they hypothesized was important for metastasis. They found that, rather than causing cancer cells to migrate and invade, VRK1 over-expression had the opposite effect.

Yet this behavior could well help cancer to establish itself in new parts of the body, according to study director and Hirschmann Endowed Professor Paula Traktman, Ph.D., in the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

Traktman and graduate student Aye M. Mon started with the idea that high levels of VRK1 might be associated with breast cancer. Other research had suggested this, and Traktman’s own work had revealed that depleting VRK1 caused cells to grow more slowly and

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