Additional Cell Death Mechanism May Help Prevent Lymphoma

Cells under stress apparently possess two different safety systems that prevent them from turning into cancer cells. Apoptosis is one such system, which enables damaged cells to literally commit suicide in order to protect the organism as a whole. The second protection, senescence, stops the cell cycle, and - although the cells stay alive - they are prevented from further dividing leading to cancerous growth.

An enzyme, Suv39h1, plays an important role in mediating senescence in white blood cells (lymphocytes). The enzyme is activated when the oncogene ras turns on genes in lymphocytes, and prevents them from undergoing uncontrolled cell growth and subsequent conversion into cancer cells. Regulating Suv39h1 may therefore lead to treatments for lymphomas.

Study: Nature 2005 Aug 4;436(7051):660-5
Researcher: Clemens Schmitt

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