A new molecular mechanism capable of preventing cancer has been identified by researchers from Canada.
Researchers from the Universite de Montreal and the Universite de Sherbrooke have found that the SOCS1 molecule prevents the cancer-causing activity of cytokines, hormones that are culprits in cancer-prone chronic inflammation diseases such as Crohns, in smokers and people exposed to asbestos.
"Excessive cytokine activity promotes cancer," said Dr. Gerardo Ferbeyre, senior author and a Universite de Montreal biochemistry professor.
"Discovery of these mechanisms will enable scientists to design a cancer-prevention strategy for people with chronic inflammatory diseases and lead to better understanding of the human body's natural defenses against cancer," Ferbeyre added.
The researchers say they were surprised to find that SOCS1 is linked to p53, the master regulator of natural anticancer defenses.
"Our team showed that SOCS1 is a direct regulator of the p53 gene and that in its absence the p53 pathway is significantly disabled," said Ferbeyre, noting the p53 gene is frequently lost in human cancer patients as it is SOCS1.
The new research suggests that the effects of SOCS1 loss in patients might also disable the p53 tumour suppression pathway.
The researchers also showed that the reintroduction of SOCS1 into tumour cells locked them into a permanent dormant state known as cell senescence preventing them from multiplying wildly as is typical of cancer cells.
"With this study, we provide new hope of finding a treatment to activate natural anticancer defenses in people at risk of suffering from cancer prompted by chronic inflammation," Ferbeyre said.
The research has been published in the prestigious journal Molecular Cell.