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A Light on p53

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In a new study published in Cancer Cell, researchers from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, have identified two compounds that may correct a common cancer-associated mutation, reports The Star-Ledger's Seth Augenstein. The p53 mutation is found in many different cancers, and it causes cancer cells to spread and become malignant. The compounds, thiosemicarbazones, have been around for decades, and have been studied as possible cancer therapeutics before, Augenstein says, but have not been connected to this specific p53 mutation.

For this study, the team did a literature search to find compounds that could affect p53, and when they tried thiosemicarbazones in mice implanted with human p53-mutated tumor cells, they found that the tumors stopped growing or shrank, and that healthy cells remained unaffected, Augenstein says. Lead author Darren Carpizo tells him that "if you had a gene you wanted to restore the function of in a human tumor as a mode of treatment, p53 has been high on the list for a long time."

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