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Two Become One

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In a new study in Science, researchers from Columbia University and their collaborators describe a gene fusion that seems to cause about 3 percent of glioblastoma tumors, reports New Scientist's Hannah Krakauer.

The two genes — FGFR and TACC — each perform important functions, but when they fuse, they cause chaotic cell division. "The protein that the fused genes code for latches onto the spindles that pull freshly replicated chromosomes into two new cells during cell division," Krakauer says. "The interference means that instead of an even division, the cells end up with different numbers of chromosomes: a phenomenon known as aneuploidy." The team injected the protein formed by the fusion gene into the brains of healthy mice and saw that 90 percent of them developed glioblastomas.

The researchers then administered a drug to block the new protein and found that this doubled the survival time of affected mice, Krakauer adds. "FGFR-TACC fusions could potentially identify a subset of GBM patients who would benefit from targeted FGFR kinase inhibition," the team writes in its paper.

Cancer Minute's sister blog Daily Scan also covers the Science article here.

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