University researchers led by Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald have discovered a gene linked to oesophageal cancer. Drug therapies based on their discovery could help up to 15% of the 8,500 people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK every year.
The new research found not only that the TRIM44 gene plays a key role in the development of oesophageal cancer, but also discovered how the gene drives the disease. The new research reveals that over-expression (when there are multiple copies) of TRIM44 leads to higher activity of the mTOR gene, which regulates cell growth and division-processes that become uncontrolled in cancer.
There are already effective treatments targeting the over-expression of genes including a number of drugs which target mTOR, so there is hope that the discovery could lead to new treatments within the next five years. There is also evidence that these findings could be applied to other cancers following experiments with cells from human breast cancers.
Professor Fitzgerald commented, “For cancer of the oesophagus, and other cancers such as breast cancer, when the TRIM gene is over-expressed, it can also be used to indicate the likely response of an individual to an MTor inhibitor drug. By tailoring the treatment to the individual we increase the chance that it will be effective at fighting the disease.”
To read the full article published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute please click here.