Published on February 18, 2013 at 3:07 AM
"Our research could have implications for this type of cancer treatment," Associate Professor Heath said. "We showed that when ribosome assembly is disrupted, cells stop growing as desired, but to our surprise they enter a survival state. An anti-cancer treatment that inadvertently promotes the survival of cancer cells through autophagy is clearly not desirable. However, our findings in zebrafish show that if ribosome assembly is blocked and, at the same time, autophagy is inhibited, cells die rapidly. It is possible that a combination of inhibitors that block ribosome function and autophagy could provide an effective anti-cancer treatment," she said.
Associate Professor Heath's group is continuing its research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, examining other genetic mutations in zebrafish that disrupt cell growth and division. "We are keen to enhance our approach by applying existing research technologies at the institute," she said. "We have identified a number of cellular processes that rapidly dividing cells - including cancer cells - depend on, and the next stage is to test whether they could provide new targets for anti-cancer therapy."
Source: PLOS Genetics