Independent research in G&D found Rheb overexpression in human lymphoma tumor samples and that it caused low-grade neoplasias in mice prostate tissue.

The gene Rheb causes cancer and contributes to the spread of the disease, according to two recent independent studies. Both papers are published in the August 15 issue of G&D.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center studied prostate tissue in mice and discovered that the overexpression of Rheb causes low-grade prostate neoplasias. In combination with decreased PTEN activity, Rheb overexpression can stimulate aggressive prostate tumor formation.

In an accompanying paper, scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) say Rheb can also function as an oncogene in lymphomagenesis. They used an experimental animal model of human lymphoma.

The MSKCC team also identified Rheb overexpression as a naturally occurring genetic mutation in lymphoma tumor samples derived from human patients. The researchers also noted that the targeted inhibition of Rheb can effectively counteract tumor progression in lymphomas with this unique genetic signature.

“The key clinical implication is that Rheb levels in tumor tissue could indicate patients that will benefit from relatively nontoxic therapies with targeted drugs like rapamyicn or inhibitors of the farnesyltransferase enzyme,” says Dr. Hans-Guido Wendel, a MSKCC researcher.

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