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Cell Division May Prevent Cancer

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Dec 18, 2012 05:11 AM EST
A new form of cell division called klerokinesis may help prevent cancer, a new study reveals. (Photo: University of Wisconsin)
A new form of cell division called klerokinesis may help prevent cancer, a new study reveals. (Photo: University of Wisconsin)

A new type of cell division that could help scientists prevent cancer has been found, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center have revealed in a study.

The study findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco Monday, suggest that the new form of cell division, named klerokinesis, acts as a natural mechanism against uncontrolled cell division that causes cancer.

Researchers found the new cell division while studying human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to establish the age-old hypothesis of German cell biology pioneer Theodor Boveri that aneuploidy, a condition of abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell, would lead to out-of-control cell division, causing cancer.

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The theory has been found true over the years but the recent study now suggests that the mechanism that leads to aneuploidy may actually help prevent cancer.

"We concluded that we were observing a new type of cell division, which we term 'klerokinesis.' Klerokinesis is derived from the Greek root for allotted inheritance, chosen because each daughter inherits a full set of chromosomes," lead researcher Dr. Mark Burkard said in his report. "We hope to learn how to promote klerokinesis to help prevent cancer."

Burkard said that similar divisions like klerokinesis have been observed in organisms such as slime molds and that it is a primitive mechanism of cell division that appears to be preserved in humans.

By learning ways to promote klerokinesis, he wishes to to prevent those cancers from developing which have cells that contain too many chromosomes, compared to the other forms of cancer that comprise of cells containing defective and the usual two sets of chromosomes.

"About 14 percent of breast cancers and 35 percent of pancreatic cancers have three or more sets of chromosomes, instead of the usual two sets," Burkard explained, adding, "Our goal in the laboratory has been to find ways to develop new treatment strategies for breast cancers with too many chromosome sets."

Burkard also believes that klerokinesis could help the medical sciences in treating a range of cell dysfunctions, from embryonic development to genetic repair.

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