A potential setback in the personalized medicine of cancer

One of the most constant and exhaustive searches in cancer research is for a treatment aimed specifically at the Ras family of genes, the most common oncogenes and those that initiate many of the most lethal tumours. However, the results of this hypothetical treatment may be far less positive than speculated due to a manuscript published in the Genes & Development journal by the Genomic Instability Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). The study shows how cells are capable of surviving even in the total absence of Ras genes if another gene, Erf, is also lost.

Discovered in 1982 – by Mariano Barbacid’s group, among others (who is also participating in this study) -, alterations in Ras genes were the first mutation described in cancer. This was a paradigm-shifting discovery, since for the first time revealed that tumours are initiated by mutations in our own genes, thereby raising hope that if inhibitors for these mutated genes were created, cancer could be cured. “It is the base of personalised medicine”, explains Óscar Fernández-Capetillo, leader of this work.

Ras, the Holy Grail of targets to fight cancer

In addition to being the first oncogene ever described, mutations in


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