Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that affects primarily infants and children. Thanks to a Massachusetts-based research team, there is now more information about the growth of neuroblastoma that will aid the development of more effective cancer treatment.
“Hijacking” Healthy Cells
Neuroblastoma gets its name from neuroblasts, which are immature cells where this form of cancer develops. For this study, researchers focused on MYCN and c-MYC, two related proteins that have been linked to neuroblastoma’s progression.
In studying tumors from 123 neuroblastoma patients, the team discovered that 25 percent had MYCN applications and another 10 percent showed overexpression of c-MYC. While the groups didn’t overlap, both showed similarly poor survival rates.
Scientists then conducted a study with zebrafish and determined that c-MYC is a more powerful oncogene (a gene that has the potential to turn a normal cell cancerous) than MYCN, Results showed that c-MYC overexpression has a greater chance of creating neuroblastoma along with a shorter onset time.
Debut of 3D Genomics
Another exciting aspect of this study is that it was the first use of 3D genomics. A technology known as Hi-C, or in situ chromosome conformation capture, helps researchers study genomic interactions to identify abnormalities.
Since c-MYC can be detected in the clinic, scientists are hoping that they’ll eventually be able to develop a new cancer treatment that targets and degrades the protein.
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