A group of Argentine scientists has discovered a 'master gene' that determines why carcinogenic tumours survive.
Scientists of the Exact and Natural Sciences Faculty at the University of Buenos Aires and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina carried out the research, reported Spanish news agency EFE.
For four years, the team studied tumours of the pituitary gland located at the base of the skull.
Through their work, they managed to identify the RSUME gene, which according to researcher Susana Silberstein, 'pulls a lot of strings' among cellular functions.
The study concluded that this gene acts within a process by which cells codify different proteins and, in doing so, changes the proteins' function and purpose.
'In the first place, the gene puts labels on a factor of transcription that increases its expression in cells by a lack of oxygen. In that way, the master gene activates a path that provides the tumours with additional blood vessels to nourish themselves,' Silberstein told the Buenos Aires daily La Nacion.
Eduardo Arzt, coordinator of the research group, told the newspaper that 'the gene can be the target of future therapies', although scientists will first have to 'find out how to manipulate it'.