Enzyme inventory affects ovarian cancer outlook

Amounts of two compounds needed for shutting down genes might clarify a patient’s prognosis

5:19pm, December 17, 2008

Women with rapidly lethal ovarian cancer are more likely to harbor tumors lacking a normal complement of two enzymes that facilitate the silencing of genes, a new study shows. Meanwhile, patients who survive significantly longer tend to have ample supplies of both compounds, scientists report in the Dec. 18 New England Journal of Medicine.

Data on patients with other cancers also linked better survival to adequate levels of one of these enzymes, the researchers find

If confirmed, the new finding might enable doctors to make more precise prognoses for patients with ovarian cancer and possibly other malignancies by testing for these enzymes in tumor tissue. The work may also contribute to a further understanding of RNA interference, in which microRNAs or another type of genetic fragment called small interfering RNAs stop biosynthesis of proteins in a cell.

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