A team of researchers at MIT, Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have successfully reactivated the tumor suppressing gene p53, dramatically reducing and in some cases eliminating tumors in mice. And if a drug that reactivates p53 can be developed, they say, it could play a major role in fighting cancer. P53 mutations are involved in up to half of all cancer tumors. Several compounds have been identified that can switch the gene back on, but this new research provides compelling data that this approach could make a major impact on the disease. Under normal circumstances, p53 regulates a cell's ability to repair itself or destruct if it can't be fixed. The study used mice engineered so that the p53 gene was turned off. The scientists then reactivated the gene after tumors appeared.
- read the report on the p53 research from MIT