BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Slime offers cancer clue
The research could benefit cancer patients
The research could benefit cancer patients
The behaviour of primitive cells called slime moulds could help scientists understand how cancer develops.

Slime moulds are single cell organisms which live among leaf litter.

Scientists looked at them because they move around in the same way human cells move within tissues.

Most of the time, they exist as single cells. But if food is in short supply, they gather together into slug-like structures and form reproductive structures called fruiting bodies.


The discovery that we can use the slime mould as a model for some of the processes involved in human cancer is an important step forward

Sir Paul Nurse, Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK scientists from Dundee University discovered that genes which control mobility in human cells have similar functions in slime moulds.

This means the amoeba-like organisms allow scientists to carry out experiments which would be too complex in human tissue.

'Marching orders'

The Dundee team looked at a gene called APC. If people inherit a faulty APC gene, they are at a high risk of developing bowel cancer.

Some who have a non-inherited form of the disease also have the faulty gene.

They found that the APC protein molecule appeared to change the way the slime mould cells moved around - as if they had lost the ability to respond to "marching orders".

Translating this information into the study of bowel cancer could provide vital information about APC's role, the scientists said.

Dr Inke Nathke, who led the research, told a conference in Palermo, Italy: "We've set up a new system to study this key cancer gene - one which in a few years is likely to produce a wealth of information about how the disease develops.

"In a relatively short space of time, our studies have provided some interesting information about the role of this gene in cancer and we think the organism will be useful for looking at a number of genes as well."

Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "The discovery that we can use the slime mould as a model for some of the processes involved in human cancer is an important step forward and one that should help us to discover the function of the number of key cancer genes."

See also:

27 Sep 00 | Science/Nature
31 Jan 02 | Health
31 Jul 01 | Health
13 May 01 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes