Some brain tumours in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster mimic the genetic program of germline cells to grow, scientists have discovered.
And removing some of these genes leads to healthy brains.
In this study, Cayetano Gonzalez and colleagues at IRB Barcelona showed for the first time that silencing some of these genes leads to the disappearance of tumours in the brain of the fruit fly.
Cells use genes depending on the function to be performed. This gene activation profile is what determines how cells divide and what they become specialized in.
The researchers used DNA chip technology to monitor this gene activity in tumour cells and have compared it with healthy cells.
"These results show that these tumours mimic the gene expression profiles of germline cells", said Ana Janic.
"These experiments demonstrate that these genes are crucial for the development of this kind of tumour," she added.
One way to take from the results would be to use some of the proteins produced by these genes as tumour cell markers. This study and opens up the way for new lines of research for the development of treatment against this disease in humans.
The study is published today in the prestigious journal Science.