A new study conducted by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona, identified regulators that may determine tumour differences between genders. The study, published in Science Advances, was conducted in vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster.
“We have identified possible regulators responsible for tumour differences between male and female flies,” said Cayetano González, researcher of the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and head of the Laboratory of Cell Division at IRB Barcelona. “The results also show that these genes could be potential targets to neutralize their degree of malignancy,” the researcher added.
Cancer does not affect women and men equally, there are notable differences in incidence and survival rates between both genders. This is not only true for cancer in reproductive organs; for example, this is the case for some types of brain tumours, and in children in which the influence of risk habits can be ruled out.
For the study, the Spanish researchers induced tumours in the brains of male and female D. melanogaster, and analysed difference in protein expression of tumours inserted in both genders. They observed that the tumours induced in male vinegar flies were more aggressive, and they found numerous proteins which expression was higher in tumour cells in males than in females.
“Many of the possible regulators of sex-dependent differences in tumours that we have identified in our Drosophila model are highly conserved proteins that are also found in humans,” González said.
Particularly, the researchers focused in Phf7 protein, which is also found in humans. They observed that Phf7 was present in tumour cells of males and absent in tumour cells of females. When they removed the protein in male flies, the aggressiveness of the tumour was reduced down to levels similar to those of female flies.
“Our results show that the proteins responsible for the differences in tumours between males and females can be regulated to reduce the degree of malignancy that is associated with the sex of the individual affected,” explains Cristina Molnar, postdoctoral researcher at IRB Barcelona and first author of the study.
“Understanding the molecular basis responsible for the sex-related differences in the incidence and development of cancer may allow us to find specific treatments for men and women,” González said.
Source: Science Daily