An Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Cancer Institute researcher has discovered that a particular hormone is responsible for driving a cancer enzyme to cause an often deadly red blood cell cancer. Researchers working with the cancer mutation in the JAK2 enzyme have found that the enzyme is dependent on the hormone TNF-alpha to grow and cause a red blood cell cancer called polycythemia vera, said principal investigator Thomas Bumm, MD, PhD, OHSU Cancer Institute member.
Polycythemia vera is a disease in which there are too many red blood cells in the bone marrow and blood, causing the blood to thicken. There is no cure.
Mice with normal TNF-alpha production and the JAK2 mutation developed the red blood cell disease very quickly – within two to three weeks. The blood became very thick, and they developed severe bone marrow fibrosis, excessive fibers in the bone marrow with a decrease in healthy cells. In contrast, mice without the hormone but carrying the JAK2 mutation had normal red blood cell levels and normal bone marrow. The hormone, TNF-alpha is known as a highly potent hormone, but until now its role in cancer has not been well understood.
“If these specific hormones are understood, then there is hope to find a new way to fight these cancer cells by attacking the specific hormones triggering the cancer cells,” said Bumm, a fellow in hematology/ medical oncology, OHSU School of Medicine.
Release date: December 11, 2007
Source: Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute
Filed Under: Drug Discovery