Scientists believe that “conserved” genes — those found in life forms that range from bacteria to plants, insects and humans — perform vital biological functions across species. And limited research on one of those genes, Nitrilase 1 (Nit1), suggested it acts to inhibit cancer development.
But researchers at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center have found Nit1 is significantly over produced in common lung cancer, compared to normal cells, and that when Nit1 is silenced, growth of lung tumors is suppressed.
Their study, published in the journal Oncotarget, is the first to characterize the contribution of Nit1 to growth and progression of non-small cell lung cancer. The findings strongly suggest that Nit1 may represent a much-needed new target for drug therapy, says the study’s senior researcher, Bo Lu, M.D., Ph.D., radiation oncologist at Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
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