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May 2008 Issue

Maria Diaz-Meco, PhD, and Jorge Moscat, PhD, study cell signaling pathways related to prostate cancer.
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New Cancer Target Identified

Published May 2008

A team of UC scientists has discovered a new target in the fight against tumor formation, raising hopes in the battle to contain aggressive cancers.

The group of researchers led by Jorge Moscat, PhD, and Maria Diaz-Meco, PhD, has determined that the protein p62 controls another protein (NF-kB) previously identified as a “positive player” in tumor growth and survival.

The findings were published in the April 8, 2008, issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

“We’ve known that a specific tumor promoting gene called Ras induces NF-kB, but the mechanism by which this was happening was completely unknown,” says Moscat, the newly appointed chair of the department of cancer and cell biology at UC.

Moscat’s team has shown that when cells get transformed by genes like Ras, a complex of molecules is formed that includes p62. NF-kB is then activated, making tumor cells more resistant to cell death.

“In other words, tumor cells survive better and that correlates with an increase in tumor formation,” says Moscat.

The researchers tested animal models without p62 and found them to be more resistant to the ability for Ras to induce lung cancer. They will continue to also study p62 in colon cancer.

Moscat and Diaz-Meco, who also studied human cancer tissue, say the findings suggest that p62 could be a key target in human cancer.

The group plans to do a follow-up study to establish the correlation between over expression of p62 and metastasis, the stage of the tumor that leads more aggressive cancers.

The department of cancer and cell biology is part of a joint cancer program involving the UC College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University Hospital.

The collaborative initiative brings together interdisciplinary research teams of caring scientists and health professionals to research and develop new cures, while providing a continuum of care for children, adults and families with cancer. 

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