University of Kentucky researchers have created a cancer-resistant mouse by introducing a tumor-suppressor gene called ‘Par-4′ into an egg. The ‘Par-4′ gene, discovered in 1993, kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. It was originally found in the prostate, but this gene also can lead to the death of a broad range of cancer cells. In their new experiments, the scientists discovered that the ‘Par-4′ gene was transmitted to new generations of mice. The next step will to use this gene in humans through bone marrow transplantation, but there is still work to be done before that. Anyway, this sounds like good news for people affected with cancers.
This research project was led by Vivek Rangnekar, professor of radiation medicine at the University of Kentucky. You can see a picture of him on the left. He worked on this project with other researchers from the universities of Kentucky and Nebraska.
So what makes mice possessing this gene so interesting? “Rangnekar’s study is unique in that mice born with this gene are not developing tumors. The mice grow normally and have no defects. In fact, the mice possessing Par-4 actually live a few months longer than the control animals, indicating that they have no toxic side effects.”
The fact that there are no toxic side effects is a potential good news from all the people affected by a cancer. “The implications for humans could be that through bone marrow transplantation, the Par-4 molecule could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”