Newly Discovered Gene Could Be ‘Molecular Master Switch’ for Cancer
A newly discovered cancer-causing gene could be the "molecular master switch for the disease," according to research published in the journal Nature, Reuters/Arizona Daily Star reports. The Pokemon gene -- short for POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic factor and not related to the cartoon characters -- "could be one of the most important" of the so-called oncogenes, which, when not functioning properly, can lead normal cells to become cancerous, according to Reuters/Daily Star.
Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who headed the team that identified the gene, said Pokemon could be a new target for drug therapies against cancer. "Pokemon is a main switch in the molecular network that leads towards cancer. If we could turn Pokemon off, it may block the oncogenic circuitry and stall the malignant process," Pandolfi said. He added, "What is extraordinary about this gene is that it is essential for the function of the other oncogenes. ... None of the oncogenes so far identified play such a critical role" (Reuters/Arizona Daily Star, 1/20).