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Researchers uncover cancer-causing mechanism behind powerful human oncogene

A protein present at high levels in more than half of all human cancers drives cell growth by blocking the expression of just a handful of genes involved in DNA packaging and cell death, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers found that the protein, called Myc, works through a tiny regulatory molecule called a microRNA to suppress the genes’ expression. It marks the first time that a subset of Myc-controlled genes has been identified as critical players in the protein’s cancer-causing function, and suggests new therapeutic targets for Myc-dependent cancers.

Funding: The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01CA170378, U54CA149145, 1F32CA177139 and 5T32A107290), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

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