COLUMBIA, 3/25/11 (Beat Byte) -- A gene that shares a name with a popular 1970s police show -- ADAM-12 -- may prove important in the fight against cancer, arthritis, and thickening of the heart’s muscular walls during heart disease called cardiac hypertrophy, Mizzou College of Veterinary Medicine researchers Alpana Ray and Bimal Ray have discovered.
Their findings -- published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) -- include how the ADAM-12 gene might be used as part of a treatment.
"Most of the success in cancer therapy lies in a combination of approaches and chemotherapies," Bimal Ray said. "This could become another piece of the puzzle that leads to the cure."
ADAM-12 is a common adult gene normally found in low levels. It's also versatile, and may play a role in cancer metastasis.
"We know that ADAM-12 allows cancer cells to proliferate," said Alpana Ray.
The MU team found a "repressor protein" that keeps ADAM-12 in check under normal conditions. But during cancer, arthritis and cardiac hypertrophy, ADAM-12 levels rise. "In tissues where ADAM-12 expression is low, the repressor is active," Alpana Ray said. "What we don’t know is how it actually works."
If they can manipulate the repressor protein, they may be able to figure out why ADAM-12 gene levels increase when the three disease states are present, which "could lead to therapeutic applications," Alpana Ray said.