Pokemon cancer gene
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- Published 20.01.05
London, Jan. 19 (Reuters): Scientists have discovered a new cancer-causing gene that they believe could be a molecular master switch for the disease.
Dubbed the Pokemon gene, it is one of several so-called oncogenes that lead normal cells to become cancerous. But it could be one of the most important.
?Pokemon is a main switch in the molecular network that leads towards cancer,? said Dr Pier Paolo Pandolfi, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York who headed the team that identified the gene.
?If we could turn Pokemon off, it may block the oncogenic circuitry and stall the malignant process.?
Although it shares its name with the popular Japanese pocket monster cartoon characters, Pandolfi said it is purely coincidental. Pokemon is short for POK Erythroid Myeloid Ontogenic factor.
Cancer develops when normal cells mutate and divide uncontrollably to form a tumour. When oncogenes do not functional well, they can lead normal cells to turn cancerous.
?What is extraordinary about this gene is that it is essential for the function of the other oncogenes,? Pandolfi said in an interview.
?It is a main switch of this network of oncogenes that control (cell) transformation. None of the oncogenes so far identified play such a critical role.?