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Mount Sinai Study Identifies New Gene That Drives Colon Cancer

Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD
Director, Tisch Cancer Institute
Professor and Chair, Oncological Sciences, Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Researchers at Mount Sinai’s Tisch Cancer Institute have identified a new gene that is essential to colon cancer growth and found that inflammation in the external environment around the tumor can contribute to the growth of tumor cells. The scientists reported these findings in Nature Communications in October.

This is the first time that scientists have discovered that the environment around a colon cancer tumor can program what is known as a “super enhancer,” a complex area of DNA with a high concentration of transcriptional machinery that controls whether a cell is malignant.

This super enhancer -- the largest 1-2% of all enhancers in the cell-- regulates the gene PDZK1IP1, which was previously not identified as a cancer gene. Once researchers deleted PDZK1IP1, colon cancer growth slowed down, suggesting that PDZK1IP1 and its super enhancer could be targets for anti-cancer therapies.

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