ROR1 is a gene that helps embryos develop by enabling growing cells to specialise, and it’s been singled out as a key gene in aggressive endometrial cancer.
The discovery, by researchers at UNSW Sydney, suggests the gene should be a target for future treatment for the cancer.
The gene normally switches itself off by the time an embryo reaches adulthood.
But some common cancers such as leukemia and pancreatic cancer trigger the gene into action again.
Drugs designed to flick the switch on the gene have been trialled in patients with a range of cancers.
Now researchers at say the trials should include women with endometrial cancer.
The university’s Associate Professor Caroline Ford says research into endometrial cancer is often overlooked despite it being the most common gynaecological cancer.
She says there’s strong evidence that it could respond well to the new drugs.
“Our study also shows that if we artificially turn off ROR1 in aggressive tumours, as we did in the laboratory, the cancer cells stop growing, and stop invading and moving around. Ultimately this shows that we can inhibit their ability to metastasise—which means they are less able to spread to other parts of the body,” she said.
“So what we’ve shown is that ROR1 is indeed a viable target for treatment of endometrial cancer and that is associated with better chances of survival.”
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