Unlocking the secrets of cell division in cancer
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IMAGE: Dr. Takayuki Okano-Uchida’s study explores DNA replication errors that can lead to cancer. view more 

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Scientists at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina have found that some cells can divide without a molecule that was previously thought necessary. Their results, published online in the July 2018 issue of Genes and Development, explain how liver cells can regenerate after injury and may help us understand how cancer arises and how cancer cells evolve to have additional mutations, which accelerates growth and spread.

Authors on the paper included Gustavo Leone, Ph.D., director of Hollings Cancer Center and a Grace E. DeWolff Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology, and Takayuki Okano-Uchida, Ph.D. One of the areas of focus in Leone’s lab is studying how normal cells divide to better understand the process in cancer cells, which can divide rapidly and spread.

Uchida explained that cell division is necessary during periods of growth, such as embryonic development, and to replace dead or damaged cells. A key component of cell division is to accurately copy each chromosome providing identical DNA to each cell produced, termed DNA replication. Errors that occur during this process can result in cells with abnormal copies of

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