Study of cell development aid in the control of diseases of cancer

Researcher seeks to understand the mechanisms of cellular aging, after birth, to prevent renewal of tumor

Foto: Friedrun Reinhold/Körber-Stiftung
Maria Blasco, of the National Center for Oncological Research of Spain, investigates the role of telomeres, which are responsible for maintaining the integrity and function of cells
Maria Blasco, of the National Center for Oncological Research of Spain, investigates the role of telomeres, which are responsible for maintaining the integrity and function of cells

In a survey with a view to developing more effective treatments for cancer, the Spanish researcher María Blasco, director of the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), seeks to know details of the mechanisms of cellular aging, beginning after the birth, to apply the same principle in controlling the disease through prevention of tumor cell renewal.

For this, she studies the role of telomeres, which are the most extreme of chromosomes, responsible for maintaining the integrity and function of cells, and telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres intact, as well as its ability to add specific sequences and repetitive DNA.

The study was presented in Madrid during Fronteras de la Ciencia y Brazil España en los 50 años de la FAPESP. The symposium is part of the celebrations of 50 years of FAPESP and gathered in Salamanca (10 to 12/12) and Madrid (13 and 14/12) researchers from educational institutions and research institutions in São Paulo and different congeners of the Iberian country.

According to Blasco, the embryonic genes, with styling characteristics in their research as omnipotent cells are able to recognize the presence, in the chromosomes, the telomeres, responsible for adding new cellular sequences, ensuring cell renewal and, ultimately, the maintenance of their own species.

Telomerase, which is interrupted at birth and ceases to be expressed in most tissues, causes cells to deteriorate progressively with the simple passage of time. This behavior is indicated by Blasco as a cause of aging.

What she and her team try now is to find out how this process is disrupted, the interruption to play also in cancer cells, which, ironically, can reactivate the renewal mechanism of telomerase, becoming able to constantly renew its set of tumor cells and thus keep constant the development of the disease.

Destination <b> death </ b>

When telomeres lose their ability to share cell death occurs. By contrast, cancer cells would be immortal, precisely because they are able, so aberrant, reactivating telomerase, which occurs in most human tumors, Blasco said the agency FAPESP.

According to the researcher, over 95% of human tumors have to reactivate telomerase to escape a fate of death, inherent cells.

A search of the researchers in Madrid is concentrated in a gene therapy for the treatment of cancer, but suggests a possibility of knowledge that extends to the whole process of aging.

We look at this issue because we know that by measuring telomere action, we can understand how they function in cellular aging process in all tissues, including stem cells. The action seeks to reactivate telomerase cancer to stop the aging process of the tumor, and it is this mechanism that we want to dominate, Blasco said.

Measurement of health <b> </ b>

For group CNIO, there are genetic evidence that telomerase is crucial to the aging process. Some people experience a condition known as syndrome telomeric consisting of mutations in the genes or telomerase genes important for its operation, said Blasco.

Basically, these mutations lead to diseases that are characterized by the premature loss of tissue regeneration capacity. Therefore, the measurement of telomeres could be a way to measure their health, with the possibility of predicting diseases and suggest new treatments.

The Spanish scientists still hold on to analysis, in animal models, the toxicity of materials aimed at the reactivation of telomerase, which could lead to the development of drugs, one of the possibilities resulting from these studies.

Currently, the team Blasco develops models to measure the effect of telomerase in the body and mastering processes that serve to increase the period of healthy life, ie make people less susceptible to diseases.

Genes are responsible for removing the diseased cells. In this mastering process, could increase telomerase and consequently develop therapeutic strategies to increase the lifetime free from diseases, said.

Source: FAPESP