The most frequently mutated gene across all types of cancers is a gene called p53. Unfortunately it has been difficult to directly target this gene with drugs. Now a multi-institutional research team, led by Lewis Cantley and investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College, has identified a family of enzymes they say is crucial for the growth of cancers that have genetic aberrations in p53. Targeting these enzymes with novel agents might prevent the growth of p53 mutant cancers, thereby benefiting a broad spectrum of cancer patients, including those with breast, ovarian, lung, colorectal and brain tumors.
In Cell, investigators pinpoint two cellular enzymes — Type 2 phosphatidylinositol-5-phosphate 4-kinases α and β (Type 2 PIP kinases) — as essential for cancer growth when cells have lost p53, the powerful tumor-suppressor gene long dubbed the “guardian of the genome.” More than half of all cancers lose this gene, allowing these cancers to grow at will.
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