Surprise finding uncovers balancing act between birth defects and cancer | 9/19/2018 | Staff
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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have made a surprise discovery about how subtle changes in the way cell survival is regulated during embryonic development can have drastic health implications.

The study, published today in the journal Cell Reports, suggests that it is important to strike a healthy balance between too little cell death, which can cause cancer, and too much cell death, which can lead to developmental abnormalities.

Research - Dr - Stephanie - Grabow - Dr

The research was led by Dr. Stephanie Grabow, Dr. Andrew Kueh, Dr. Francine Ke, Professor Andreas Strasser and Associate Professor Anne Voss and performed in collaboration with researchers at Monash University and the United States-based biotechnology company Genentech.

Programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis, is a process that removes unwanted cells from the body. Apoptosis is crucial for normal development, for example removing the webbing between our fingers.

Study - Researchers - Changes - Regulation - Apoptosis

In this new study, researchers discovered that subtle changes in the regulation of apoptosis can have drastic consequences on development, particularly of the face and brain.

"There is a remarkably tight balance between the 'pro-survival' and 'pro-death' proteins that regulate cell death during development," Dr. Kueh said.

Regulators - Cent - Types - Experiments - Abnormalities

"We found that reducing certain regulators by only 50 per cent, which is relatively subtle for these types of experiments, can cause craniofacial abnormalities such as eye and palate defects."

Dr. Kueh said altered levels of apoptotic regulators could be due to differences in the genes themselves, but could possibly also be affected by environmental factors such as nutritional deficiencies or infections.

Associate - Professor - Voss - Balance

Associate Professor Voss said the fine balance...
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