Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scientists discover cause of rare skin cancer that heals itself

Discovering how a rare cancer heals itself could lead to new treatments for other types of the disease, claim scientists.

Researchers believe they have found a key gene involved in Ferguson-Smith disease, otherwise known as multiple self-healing squamous epithelioma (MSSE), a skin cancer that grows rapidly but then a few weeks later, inexplicably, heals itself.

They believe that by finding out how the faults in the gene TGFBR1 cause the cancer and then subsequently heal it could give valuable insights into beating other types of tumour.

The TGFBR1 gene is involved in the making of a protein through which cells receive messages from their neighbours, instructing them to carry out jobs essential to growth and development.

But malignant cells interpret the "instructions" transmitted by TGFBR1 in two completely different ways, depending on the maturity of the tumour.

TGFBR1 initially acts as a "brake" preventing the growth of early tumours of various types but when cancers become more advanced and aggressive, their cells undergo a "signalling switch".

In more advanced cancers, TGFBR1 promotes tumour growth and spread instead.

The reverse happens with MSSE which is caused by an inherited fault in the TGFBR1 gene.

Patients with faulty TGFBR1 develop lots of small tumours – but at some point there is a "switch" in behaviour and the tumours lacking TGFBR1 heal themselves.

Scientists do not yet understand how this happens. ...

via Scientists discover cause of rare skin cancer that heals itself - Telegraph.

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