Methods for Identifying Novel Therapeutics and Diagnostics in the p53 Pathway
BACKGROUND: Current non-surgical cancer therapies rely on the use of compounds or radiation doses that are non-specific for the tumor cells and are highly toxic to humans. Although these treatments are particularly effective against tumor cells, they are also destructive to the surrounding normal cells, which leads to severe side effects. In addition, the non-specificity of these therapies limits their efficacy.
Efforts to develop more specific treatments have focused on targeting the defective processes in the tumor cells, such as those involving mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. One of the most desirable molecular targets for clinical intervention in cancer is the p53 tumor suppressor gene, since it is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancers.
However, scientists have encountered difficulty in studying the anti-tumor function of p53 due to limited simple situations in which to study the gene. In particular, it has not been possible to take advantage of classical genetic methods to identify genes that act with p53 to suppress tumor formation.
DESCRIPTION: Scientists at the University of California have developed a method for discovering genes that regulate, are regulated by, or act in conjunction with the tumor suppressor gene p53. In addition, scientists can use this system to search for compounds that restore function to mutant forms of p53 commonly found in cancer or that are specifically toxic to cancer cells defective for p53 function.
APPLICATIONS: This new invention has applications in discovering new therapeutics or prophylactics as well as diagnostic or prognostic tests for cancer.
ADVANTAGES: The new UC technology provides the following benefits:
* Classical genetics can now be used to identify p53- relevant proteins;
* Provides a means for identifying anti-cancer agents.
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