Researchers Discover Gene Linked to Esophageal Cancer

Posted on May 11, 2014

Copies of the TRIM44 gene in an esophageal gene line

Researchers at University of Cambridge have discovered a gene (TRIM44) linked to esophageal cancer. The image above shows multiple copies of the TRIM44 gene in an esophageal cancer cell line. The researchers say in the announcement that drug therapies based on their discovery could help up to 15% of those diagnosed with cancer.

The researchers say they also discovered how the TRIM44 gene drives esophageal cancer. They say over-expression of TRIM44 leads to higher activity of the mTOR gene, which regulates cell growth and division - processes that become uncontrolled in cancer.

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead author of the research from the MRC Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge, says, "We know how effective treatments targeting the over-expression of genes can be - just look at the success of Herceptin for breast and stomach cancer. As there are already a number of drugs which target mTOR, we are hopeful that our discovery could lead to new treatments within the next five years."

The research paper is published here in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Photo: Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and Dr Johnny Ong