Updated on 12 July 2012
Gene suppression inhibits cancer
The next step for the Zurich researchers was to test how Sox10 works in human melanoma cells. They determined that the gene also controls a stem-cell program in cancer cells and is necessary for cell division. In order to corroborate these findings in a living organism, the researchers ultimately used a mouse which carried similar genetic mutations to those found in human melanoma and thus developed black skin cancer spontaneously. Astonishingly, the suppression of Sox10 in this animal model completely inhibited the formation and spread of cancer.
Prof Sommer added that, "Our research demonstrates that a tumor could probably be treated by attacking its stem cells." The results also illustrate that such studies can primarily be successful through the close collaboration and conscious use of synergies between basic researchers and clinicians.