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Liver Cancer | Cancer May Be Caused Or Prevented By The Same Gene

Imagine this: a doctor says to a cancer patient that a gene in their body is responsible for their leukemia. Now imagine that the doctor tells the patient that the gene can be suppressed, but that suppressing the gene could cause liver cancer.

According to scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) the gene PTPN11 – a gene responsible for determining the type of cell, cellular growth or the formation of cancerous cells – plays an important role in the prevention of liver cancer, while sometimes being responsible for leukemia.

“We noticed that when PTPN11 is removed from hepatocytes, a type of liver cells, cancer development is dramatically increased. This suggests that PTPN11 normally acts to prevent liver cancer,” said Gen-Sheng Feng, professor of pathology and molecular biology at UCSD.



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Feng and his colleagues – based in San Diego; Shanghai, China and Turin, Italy – used an advanced scientific technique to allow them to take a closer look at PTPN11.

The researchers deleted genes from specific types of cells in mice and observed the results.

Feng said that he and his colleagues were surprised at the revelations that the absence of the gene PTPN11 could be a cause of liver cancer.

“Our group has been interested in studying the function of the gene PTPN11 in liver regeneration, a very important physiological process in protecting the liver against damages triggered by food toxins, viruses and alcohols,” Feng said.

He said that people should not think of the gene like kids think of programs on Cartoon Network, where the good guy and the bad guy are clearly identifiable. Feng said that this very simplistic way of looking at PTPN11 should be avoided because people need to realize that there are good aspects and bad aspects of genes and that nothing is perfect.

“For a gene of critical importance in life and health, it will cause problems when it is overly-active or when it has no


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