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May 13, 2008

Investigators Uncover Genetic Variation Associated with Cancer

  • Researchers found a mutation through which papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), the most common form of thyroid cancer, is passed down through families.

    First-degree relatives of PTC patients have a three- to eightfold greater risk of developing the disease than others. Even with this strong genetic component, previous research has not been able to find a mutation that predispose people to the affliction within any of the know tumor-associated genes.

    In the current study, investigators examined how these genes are being regulated.  They identified a variant in the pre-miR-146a sequence that reduces the quantity of miR-146a, which is needed to regulate other genes. The investigators also showed that when miR-146a levels fall, two specific genes involved in tumor promotion are not inhibited as efficiently, leading to a greater risk of cancer.

    The scientists involved in the research were from the Ohio State University, Helsinki University Central Hospital, and Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology. The study was published May 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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