Rewriting our understanding of gastric tumors
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The immune system can be an important ally in the fight against cancer. A study from McGill scientists published today in Science suggests that the reverse may also be true – that abnormal inflammation triggered by the immune system may underlie the development of stomach tumours in patients with a hereditary cancer syndrome known as Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS). The findings are likely to prompt a re-thinking of how gastric tumours form in patients with this syndrome and in others with gastrointestinal cancers. They should also open the door to potential new treatments based on targeting inflammation rather than tumour cells.

A rare, hereditary cancer syndrome

Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS) is a rare genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 150,000 people worldwide. PJS is caused by a mutant, inactive version of a gene (STK11/LKB1) that acts as a tumour suppressor and regulator of cell growth, metabolism, survival and polarity (the way the different elements in the cell are organized). Initial signs of the disease are the development of dark blue or brown freckles around people’s mouths, eyes, and nostrils. Patients also develop benign polyps – masses of cells that form on the inside lining of their stomach and their digestive

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