In the News

October 2015

Oct. 14, 2015 — A team of scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has made a discovery that suggests cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells, raising concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer. The studies were conducted in specialized mice that had been transplanted with melanoma cells from patients. Prior studies had shown that the metastasis of human melanoma cells in these mice is predictive of their metastasis in patients.

Pancreas Stain Image

Metastasis, the process by which cancer cells disseminate from their primary site to other parts of the body, leads to the death of most cancer patients. The CRI team found that when antioxidants were administered to the mice, the cancer spread more quickly than in mice that did not get antioxidants. The study was published in Nature.

  • Read the news release.
  • Read the commentary in Nature.
  • Read the article in The Washington Post.
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  • Read the article in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
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  • Read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Read the article in The Scientist.
  • Read the article in the International Business Times.
  • Read the article in The Straits Times.
  • Read the article in Medical Daily.
  • Read the article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
  • Read the article in Medical News Today.
  • Read the wire story posted by UPI.

Oct. 12, 2015 — Scientists at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) have found that a microRNA responsible for preventing liver cancer formation can also compromise liver regeneration and, if present at even higher levels, can cause liver damage that results in cancer.

“Let-7 microRNAs have been shown in mice to be anti-growth, anti-cancer genes that are extraordinarily effective at preventing the formation of certain types of liver cancer,” says Dr. Hao Zhu, an Assistant Professor at CRI and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. “However, our study raises the possibility that let-7 is not a general anti-cancer agent. It’s important to be selective and pay attention to when it might be effective and when it might not be effective, or even harmful.”

The CRI team also noted there are about a dozen, very similar let-7 microRNAs scattered across the genome, suggesting that the microRNAs work in tandem to achieve proper levels of let-7 to balance the need for regeneration against the need to antagonize cancer formation. This idea was supported by the fact that getting rid of a small subset of let-7 microRNAs could even accelerate liver regeneration.

Read the study published in eLife.