Published on August 14, 2013 at 6:54 AM
The gene that codes for CHD5 is found on part of chromosome 1 (1p36), which is often lost in tumour cells in a number of cancers, particularly neuroblastoma, a disease that strikes almost only children and which is thought to arise during the development of the peripheral nervous system. Neuroblastoma lacking this section of chromosome and thus also CHD5 are often more aggressive and more rapidly fatal. Treatment with retinoic acid can make immature nerve cells and some neuroblastoma cells mature into specialised nerve cells, but when the researchers prevented neuroblastoma cells from upregulating CHD5, the tumours no longer responded to retinoic acid treatment.
"In the absence of CHD5, neural tumour cells cannot mature into harmless neurons, but continue to divide, making the tumour more malignant and much harder to treat," says Dr Holmberg at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. "We now hope to be able to restore the ability to upregulate CHD5 in aggressive tumour cells and make them mature into harmless nerve cells."
The research group at Karolinska Institutet is also active at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. The study was financed by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Children's Cancer Foundation and the Lilian Sagen and Curt Eriksson Research Foundation.
Source: Karolinska Institutet