Study Provides First Evidence that Cancer Metastasis is Influenced by Inherited Genes
June 05, 2020 | Biotechnology
Reading time: 5-6 minutes
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Animal and human studies by scientists at Rockefeller University have for the first time generated data to suggest that an individual’s pre-existing genetic make-up may impact on the likelihood of cancer progressing and metastasizing. The researchers discovered that melanoma-bearing mice carrying the APOE4 variant of the APOE gene were less likely to develop metastases than animals carrying the APOE2 variant. APOE4 variant melanoma-bearing mice also survived for longer, and responded better to immune checkpoint therapy than APOE2 mice.
An analysis of data from human cohorts similarly showed that melanoma patients who carried the APOE4 variant had improved survival compared with those carrying APOE2. The scientists say they suspect that these inherited variations can have the same effect on other types of cancer.
“Patients often ask ‘Why am I so unlucky? Why did my cancer spread?’” notes lead investigator Sohail Tavazoie, MD, Leon Hess Professor and senior attending physician. “As doctors, we never had an answer. This research provides an explanation.” Tavazoie suggests that the discovery may change the way that scientists think about cancer metastasis, and lead to a better understanding of patients’ risks, helping to inform on treatment decisions.
The team reports its findings in Nature Medicine, in a paper titled, “Common germline variants of the human APOE gene modulate melanoma progression and survival.”
Metastasis occurs when cancer cells escape the original tissue to establish new tumors elsewhere in the body. Metastases lead to the majority of cancer deaths. Scientists have suspected that the ability to metastasise may be linked with gene mutations, but have yet to find a genetic change that could be proven to encourage metastasis.
Humans carry one of three different versions of ApoE, designated ApoE2, ApoE3, and Ap... Read the whole article at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) Blog.
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