A Toronto-based team of scientists from Princess Margaret Hospital recently published a groundbreaking paper in Science on the tumour suppressor gene PTEN. The discovery explains important molecular mechanisms of PTEN and helps strengthen the foundation of personalized cancer treatment.

The team investigated the effect of PTEN loss and deregulation by manipulating human and animal cancer cells. Additional experiments also uncovered that, when subject to radiation and genotoxic substances — both of which are essential conditions of conventional cancer treatments ­— cells produce different responses, leading to various survival rates, depending on the cells’ proficiency or deficiency in PTEN.

In an interview with Science Codex, Dr. Vuk Stambolic commented that this difference may account for the apparent ineffectiveness of traditional chemotherapy and radiation on some tumors, since PTEN is “defective in as many as half of all advanced cancers.” The principal investigator of the team, Dr. Stambolic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at U of T.

The new finding will be a useful tool for clinicians when making  treatment decisions. With tests for PTEN deficiency already developed, clinicians can now devise more effective therapies based on the PTEN property of the cells.


With files from ScienceCodex and Science

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