microRNA Linked to B-Cell NHL

Over the past few years, scientists have discovered that a new class of genetic regulators called "microRNAs" influences normal human growth and development. Now, researchers have found that microRNAs also play an important role in human cancer. The findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Nature (June 8).

"These studies change the landscape of cancer genetics by establishing the specific microRNAs expressed in most common cancers and investigating the effects of microRNAs on cancer development and cancer genes," says cancer expert Dr. Paul Meltzer.

In one of the new studies, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, led by Dr. Gregory Hannon, and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, led by Dr. Scott Hammond, focused on a segment of human chromosome 13 that was known to be amplified (i.e. present in excess) in several tumor types including B-cell lymphoma.

Collectively, the results of the study establish that microRNAs can function as bona fide oncogenes.

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