A gene called Reprimo is shut down in several cancers but rarely in healthy cells, a new study shows. This finding suggests that the gene's normal action would somehow inhibit these cancers. What's more, Reprimo is stalled in some precancerous growths, indicating that its silencing might occur in the early stages of cancer, says Adi F. Gazdar, a pathologist at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Reprimo is poised to take its place on the growing list of genes that normally keep cell growth in check but fail in cancer. Identifying such cancer-suppressor genes has already improved cancer screening and could lead to new therapies, Gazdar says.