Researchers in Boston have identified a candidate oncogeneprotein that regulates cell division.

Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical Schoolscientists found the putative oncogene, called PRAD1, inparathyroid tumors.

Identification of new oncogenes can lead to a betterunderstanding of cancer development and to new drugs thatblock uncontrolled tumor growth.

PRAD1's sequence and in vitro properties suggest that the geneencodes a member of the cyclin family. Cyclins control theability of a cell to replicate.

The authors, in an article on Thursday in Nature, suggest thatexcessive PRAD1 may override this control, leading to tumorgrowth. In support of this proposal is the finding that severaltumors, including breast and squamous epithelial cellcarcinomas, do overexpress the PRAD1 gene.

Tim Hunt, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund near London,cautions in an accompanying article that much more research isneeded before positive assignation of PRAD1 as a cyclin-likeoncogene can be made. He added that PRAD1 will givescientists new leads to follow in determining the mechanismsthat control cell growth.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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