Health Finding the cause of adolescent bone cancer

Finding the cause of adolescent bone cancer

A new international study has uncovered the gene that causes one of the most common cancers in adolescents, paving the way for possible new treatments.

The global collaboration, involving researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Murdoch University, was looking for the causes of osteosarcoma — a type of bone tumour that primarily affects young people during puberty — when the gene that stimulates tumour growth was found.

Lead author Emel Rothzerg, from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences, said understanding the code for this gene had led to the find.

“As cells create new proteins from DNA, the start or end may be changed, meaning that the code is misread and the protein produced may be too small, too large or the wrong shape,” Ms Rothzerg said.

“In this case, the proteins produced are less effective and produced in smaller numbers leaving the growth hormone to stimulate the osteosarcoma and grow without moderation.”

Professor David Wood from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences said the study could lead to therapeutics for osteosarcoma in the future.

“Although combination therapy with surgery and chemotherapy has improved outcomes for patients, this treatment regimen has only been effective in 70 per cent of patients,” Professor Wood said.

“A better understanding of the disease process would permit earlier diagnosis and development of more effective therapies to improve patient health.”

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