Molecule that helps gastric cancer patients survive longer

Researchers have discovered a molecule that can help clinicians predict survival time of people afflicted with gastric cancer, a significant health problem in developing countries which is typically associated with late-stage diagnosis and high mortality.

Beijing: Researchers have discovered a molecule that can help clinicians predict survival time of people afflicted with gastric cancer, a significant health problem in developing countries which is typically associated with late-stage diagnosis and high mortality.

Patients whose primary gastric cancer lesions express high levels of microRNA 506 have significantly longer survival times compared to patients with low miR-506 expression, the findings showed.

In addition, miR-506 suppresses tumour growth, blood vessel formation, and metastasis or cancer spread, the study noted.

"Our study suggests that miR-506 acts as a tumour suppressor in gastric cancer,” explained lead investigator Xin Song from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

"Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process that enables cancer cells to invade their surroundings and to metastasise," Song said.

"Our study presents evidence that miR-506 is a potent inhibitor of EMT," Song noted.

The study involved 84 patients who had undergone cancer surgery.

When samples were divided into groups with miR-506 levels above and below the mean, survival was found to be significantly longer in patients with high miR-506 expression. 

The investigators next examined miR-506 expression in cells from seven gastric cancer cell lines. 

They found that gastric cancer cells had lower levels of miR-506 than normal stomach tissue.

The findings appeared in The American Journal of Pathology.

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