Researchers show how to divide and conquer 'social network' of cells

November 09, 2009



Montreal, November 9, 2009 - On Noah's Ark animals came in twos: male and female. In human bodies trillions of cells are coupled, too, and so are the molecules from which they are composed. Yet these don't come in twos, they are regrouped into indistinguishable clusters. Because these complex cell networks are the backbone of life - and illness - scientists have long searched for ways to splice cell clusters down to their original pairs.

According to a new study in the journal Nature Methods, Université de Montréal scientists Stephen Michnick and Po Hien Ear have managed the feat of dividing cell networks down to their genesis. The discovery could have applications for diseases such as cancer, where blood-thirsty cells could be decoupled to curb their multiplication in the human body.

"We have provided a simple way to decouple one cellular network from another," says Dr. Michnick, a Université de Montréal biochemistry professor and Canada Research Chair in Integrative Genomics. "Once decoupled, we could clearly distinguish what one network was doing versus another."

As part of their study, the researchers reproduced gene networks using baker's yeast - a cellular organism proven to resemble the critical functions of human cells. "We cut out relationships between cells to see which are crucial and which are not," explains Dr. Michnick. "We found that de-coupling cells permitted growth regulation. One way to attack cancer would be to find molecules that decouple other networks (as we did), slow down its growth and weaken the illness."
-end-
About the study:
The article, "A general life-death selection strategy for dissecting protein functions," published in Nature Methods, was coauthored by Po Hien Ear and Stephen W. Michnick of the Université de Montréal.

Partners in research:
This research was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Research Chairs Program and the Université de Montréal.

On the web:
About the cited Nature Methods study: www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmeth.1389.html
About the Université de Montréal: www.umontreal.ca/english
About the Université de Montréal's Department of Biochemistry: www.biochimie.umontreal.ca
About the Michnick lab: http://michnick.bcm.umontreal.ca

For more information:
Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
International press attaché
Université de Montréal
Telephone: 514-343-7593
Email: sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca

University of Montreal

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.