While advances in surgery and chemotherapy have meant that the prognosis for hepatoblastoma patients is generally quite good, aggressive forms of the disease leave some young patients with few treatment options and poor long-term survival rates. In a study published at 18:00 (JST) on Aug. 28 in Nature Communications, researchers from Osaka University have built on prior research to make a breakthrough in our understanding of the causes of hepatoblastoma, identifying a gene that could be key to developing a targeted therapy.
As far back as 1999, researchers realized that a large number of hepatoblastoma patients -- up to 90% in some cases -- carry mutations in a gene called β-catenin. As part of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, the β-catenin protein activates genes needed for cellular growth and differentiation. If left unchecked, β-catenin accumulation can result in tumor formation. Mutations in Wnt/β-catenin signaling components often lead to β-catenin accumulation and are common in several forms of cancer.
Wnt/β-catenin - Target - Genes - Tumor - Cells
"We decided to screen uncharacterized Wnt/β-catenin target genes in liver tumor cells to try and identify novel genes with a role in the development of hepatoblastoma," explains lead author of the study Shinji Matsumoto. "One of the most...
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