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'SUICIDE PREVENTION' OF CELLS MAY BE LINKED TO CANCER

 'SUICIDE PREVENTION' OF CELLS MAY BE LINKED TO CANCER
 LA JOLLA, Calif., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- An interaction between a


gene that causes cell "suicide" and another gene that prevents this cell death has been identified, as reported in this week's issue of Nature. Research by investigators at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology has shown that cells can be directed to die by a gene called "c-myc," and this occurs by a process of programmed cell death or apoptosis. Another gene, called "bcl-2," can prevent this gene-activated cellular suicide process. Together, this interaction between cell death and its prevention can be a cause of cancer.
 In the normal adult, new cells are constantly being born and old cells die, so that the overall number of cells is maintained. Douglas Green, Reid Bissonnette and their colleagues have shown that one important way that this occurs is through the activation of the c-myc gene, which can direct the cells into the process of programmed cell death. In some forms of cancer, however, the cells destined to die don't do so. The researchers found that this can occur through the ability of the bcl-2 gene to prevent the c-myc-induced cell death. When c-myc and bcl-2 are both active, the result can be uncontrolled growth of cells, such as in some types of cancers called lymphomas.
 This study also has important implications for understanding AIDS. Research in France, Holland and the United States has shown that the loss of T cells in individuals carrying the HIV virus is because of the activation of suicide genes, possible including c-myc. This loss of T cells is the reason that AIDS patients are unprotected from infections and therefore is a major basis for the disease. Therefore the control of this cell death process represents a key to controlling the progression of AIDS. By studying gene interactions that can prevent such cell death, an important clue toward resolving this fundamental problem can be gained.
 As with any exciting basic research discovery, the application of these findings to advances in patient care will require considerable effort over a number of years in the future. Nevertheless, these central findings have provided new places to look for answers to some important problems in human disease.
 -0- 10/8/92
 /CONTACT: Hazel T. Sick, news media coordinator of La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 619-558-3500/ CO: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology ST: California IN: MTC SU:


JB-LS -- SD001 -- 0320 10/08/92 09:34 EDT
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Date:Oct 8, 1992
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