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July 5, 2005

'Talking' chemical may signal hostile cancer

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According to the researchers that conducted this study, their findings may change the understanding of some tumours. Their work showed that the cancer cells looked like primitive cells called neural progenitor cells, and adds to a growing body of evidence that some cancers come from damage to master cells called stem cells, instead of from adult cells that have undergone changes to a malignant state.

Could dysregulation of the GABAergic system constitute a fundamental event in the development some types of tumors?

A chemical that nerves use to talk to each other might help show which tumours are the most likely to spread, United States researchers reported on Monday.

(...) Gamma amino butyric acid, or GABA, is found at unusually high levels in some aggressive lung, thyroid, and prostate tumours, a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found.

(...) "GABA appears to be an indicator of a bad prognosis for these cancers," Dr Jeffrey Gordon, who led the study, said in a statement.

(...) "Usually these tumours are diagnosed only after they have spread to other parts of the body, but now we have the potential to recognise them before they metastasise."

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Interestingly, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and GABA receptors have been recently detected on epithelial colon cancer cells. Nembutal (pentobarbital) is a barbiturate with GABA-agonistic effects, and studies have shown that it's a potent inhibitor of primary colon cancer and metastasis. Suggestive of a role for GABA-agonistic drugs having a therapeutic role in cancer?.

Related reading:
GABAergic system gene expression predicts clinical outcome in patients with neuroblastoma.

Characterization of {gamma}-aminobutyric acid type A receptor-associated protein, a novel tumor suppressor, showing reduced expression in breast cancer.

The gamma-aminobutyric acid A receptor pi subunit is overexpressed in pancreatic adenocarcinomas.

Inhibition of Experimental Colon Cancer Metastasis by the GABA-Receptor Agonist Nembutal.

Evaluation of a panel of tumor markers for molecular detection of circulating cancer cells in women with suspected breast cancer.

Posted by Richard at July 5, 2005 1:00 PM


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