By Kim Tae-gyu. Staff Reporter
THE Korea Times 02-06-2004
Korean scientists continue to break new ground in fighting cancer as domestic researchers examined the mechanism of a gene which can help detect and treat various sorts of cancer.
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Prof. Lim Dae-sik on Thursday said his team uncovered the mechanism of RASSF1A (Ras Association Domain Family 1 A), or tumor suppressor genes, for the first time in the world.
The gene was widely considered to play an important role in reducing the proliferation of cancer cells, but its exact function and processes have remained unknown up to now.
It is the second cancer-related breakthrough by Koreans in a week after Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) Prof. Chung Hesson unveiled the oral anti-cancer drug.
``Cancer results from the failed management of cell cycles due to things like radiation. After a two-year intensive study, we found out how RASSF1A governs the cell cycle,"" Lim said.
Lim added cancer is caused by abnormal cells, which continue to grow and divide out of control unlike normal cells, which die over time. Cancer cells develop into malignant tumors, eventually inflicting damaging effect on the human body.
As a result, a lack of the RASSF1A indicates a high possibility of cancer and injection of it into cells is believed to help cure the deadly disease, according to Lim.
Dr. Song Min-sup, who took charge of the research, said the findings will especially pave the way for the detection and treatment of lung cancer.
``The dearth of RASSF1A was reported mostly in the case of lung cancer. The new findings will provide insight into the diagnosis and cure of lung cancer from its early stages,"" Song explained.
Lung cancer is a very elusive disease because it doesn"t cause symptoms in its infancy. When symptoms do occur, usually it is too late.
``We expect commercial detection kits or drugs for lung cancer in around five years after pre-clinic experimentation and two-phase clinic trials,"" Song expected.
Details of the study is available in the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology in its February edition.