Surprise finding uncovers balancing act between birth defects and cancer

IMAGE: L-R: Professor Andreas Strasser, Dr. Andrew Kueh, Dr. Francine Ke and Associate Professor Anne Voss. view more 

Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have made a surprise discovery about how subtle changes in the way cell survival is regulated during embryonic development can have drastic health implications.

The study, published today in the journal Cell Reports, suggests that it is important to strike a healthy balance between too little cell death, which can cause cancer, and too much cell death, which can lead to developmental abnormalities.

The research was led by Dr Stephanie Grabow, Dr Andrew Kueh, Dr Francine Ke, Professor Andreas Strasser and Associate Professor Anne Voss and performed in collaboration with researchers at Monash University and the United States-based biotechnology company Genentech.

At a glance

Researchers have found there is a fine balance between cell survival and cell death during development. Subtle changes in the proteins that regulate cell death can cause severe defects in face and brain development. The finding was a surprise outcome of cancer research and led to an exciting collaboration between cancer researchers and developmental biologists.

A perfect dose of cell death



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