Micronuclei may function as potential cancer biomarkers

Los Angeles: Scientists have found that micronuclei (small extra nuclei) in cells are associated with specific cancer types, thereby paving the way to detect cancer, says a study.

Micronuclei are erratic, small extra nuclei, which contain fragments or whole chromosomes that were not incorporated into daughter cells after cell division.

A team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that disrupted micronuclei, which can trigger massive DNA damage of chromosomes, might play an even more active role in carcinogenesis than previously thought, according to the study published in Cell July 3.

They also found that disrupted micronuclei can be an objective biomarker for the genetic instability common to many solid tumours, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), reports Science Daily.

"Our study shows that more than 60 percent of micronuclei undergo catastrophic dysfunction in solid tumours, such as NSCLC," says Martin Hetzer, professor at Salk`s molecular and cell biology laboratory.

"We identified disrupted micronuclei in two major subtypes of human non-small cell lung cancer, which suggests that they could be a valuable tool for cancer diagnosis," said Hetzer, who is also holder of the Jesse and Caryl Phillips Foundation Chair.


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