HEYL, a Novel Oncogene

TGF-beta signal transduction is a primary tumor suppression pathway in breast cancer. Many breast cancer cells gain mechanisms to counteract the TGF-beta inhibitory effect but the mechanisms have remained elusive. Recently, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have identified a new oncogene that appears to regulate the TGF-beta signal transduction pathway in breast cancer. This gene is found to be overexpressed at high frequencies in patients with early stage breast cancer through to late metastasis phase. This gene targets the cell cycle inhibitor, p15, reducing its effect and allowing cells to progress through the cell cycle faster. The oncogene increases cancer cell proliferation and antagonizes the cytostatic effect of TGF-beta signal transduction pathway. Therefore, this gene may play a significant role in facilitating breast cancer development. The scientists have further generated antibodies to the protein expressed by the oncogene and demonstrate that they can stain breast cancer cells in a specific manner. Description (Set) Proposed Use (Set) Current therapeutic targets usually aim to inhibit the activity of oncogenes whose expression accounts for a significant number of patients. However, only very few such targets have been identified in breast cancer. The oncogene discovered here exhibits high expression in a large proportion of breast cancer patients and this suggests it could be a good therapeutic target for clinic trials. The antibodies generated may also be utilized to stain breast tissue as a prognostic test for cancer.

Inventor(s): Sukumar, Saraswati V.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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