Gene discovery could stop spread of cancer

Research-Image4_JLockLHammond1Scientists from The University of Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB) have discovered a gene called ccbe1 that could be targeted to help stop the spread of cancer.

Cancer scientist from IMB, Dr Ben Hogan, led a team that discovered how the gene works to.

“Lymphatic vessels carry lymph fluid around the body, transporting important substances like white blood cells, dietary fats and filtering excess fluid from our tissues back into our blood stream,” Dr Hogan said.

However the lymphatic system can also help aid the spread of cancer through the body. Dr Hogan explains, “Cancer cells can spread through the body by establishing their own system of lymphatic vessels.”

The gene known as ccbe1 essentially acts as a power switch by activating an important signalling pathway which causes new lymphatic vessels to grow. Dr Hogan’s team now wants to investigate if a treatment can be created to block this process, resulting in stopping new lymphatic vessels from assisting tumour growth.

Dr Hogan said any new treatments arising from this discovery were still several years away, as more research is needed to develop a therapy suitable for human clinical trials.

The discovery was published in the journal Development and involved teams located at UQ, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne and the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is proud to have supported research at both IMB and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre with more than $11 million in funding.