(CTN News) – According to a recently published study, cancer-causing genes can be suppressed before babies are even born. The University of Bath has found that a genetic “tumor switch” develops shortly after fertilization.
It is hoped that this discovery could lead to a screening program, personalized vaccines, or even embryo engineering that could completely eliminate cancer.
Professor Tony Perry, study co-author, states that “our work could open up new avenues for the early detection of cancer.”
According to experiments conducted on mice, gene activity begins within four hours of the injection of sperm into the embryo. A number of these genes, such as “oncogenes,” have the potential to cause cancer if they mutate. Humans are expected to benefit from these findings as well.
According to Prof. Perry, many factors involved in the beginning of gene activity in embryos are known to be major oncogenes.
In one-cell embryos, a predetermined order of events has been established for the first time in any species.
It is possible that carcinogenesis is a recapitulation of embryogenesis.
Is this likely to result in children who are ‘superhuman’?
A state-of-the-art method for injecting sperm into eggs was combined with the latest techniques for sequencing messenger RNA (mRNA).
To carry genetic information, these chemicals are essential to the protein-making machinery of a cell.
A number of experts believe that mRNA vaccines will eventually lead to the development of “superhuman” health. Their contribution to the fight against COVID-19 has already been significant. Before fertilization, eggs produce the microscopic molecule; after fertilization, embryos produce it.
Prof. Perry and his team distinguished between the two and identified the “on switch” associated with cancer. Eggs are responsible for the transmission of this disease.
When inhibitors are applied, embryos cease to grow almost immediately.
Researchers targeted a protein called , which is expressed in more than 70 percent of human cancers. By blocking it, the switch was turned off, potentially preventing future deadly tumours.
According to current research, C-Myc and other cancer genes are dormant in eggs until they are activated by fertilization.
This study supports recent research by the same group showing that gene activity in human embryos also begins at the stage of one cell.
In mouse and human one-cell embryos, many genes are turned on from the start, according to study lead author Dr. Maki Asami. Both species are predicted to be affected by the same oncogenic transcription factors.”
Professor Perry believes it could revolutionize the fight against cancer, whose causes remain elusive in most cases. Furthermore, they provide insight into the mechanisms that regulate the start of mammalian development.
Cancer and embryos share many similarities that could help us gain a deeper understanding of each in the future.