An international team of researchers found how cancer cells respond to DNA damage signaling when in low oxygen, or hypoxia. Through comprehensive gene expression analyses, the team determined how one family of genes controls DNA damage response, as well as how it weakens the effectiveness of anticancer therapies.
Our bodies have strict molecular mechanisms that help us respond to hypoxia. These mechanisms are not just limited to helping us adapt to higher altitudes when climbing up a mountain. They also arise in diseases such as anemia, diabetes, or cancers. In the case of a new study led by Keiji Tanimoto‘s team at Hiroshima University (HU), hypoxia indicates developments or poor prognoses of cancer.
Initially, a tumor growing within a patient depends upon oxygen and nutrients from his or her blood. Eventually, however, a tumor can outgrow this supply of nutrients and end up in hypoxia. This stage does not spell the end of growth – by changing its own metabolism, a tumor can adapt to growing in low oxygen.
“In the medical biology field, we generally knew that cells in hypoxia appeared mutated, but we never quite knew how it happened,” Tanimoto said. He is the primary author of
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