By Lindsay Braun, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A breakthrough discovery reveals one particular hormone is responsible for helping a cancer enzyme cause a type of deadly red blood cell cancer.
Thomas Bumm, M.D., lead researcher and member of the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute was working with the JAK2 cancer enzyme that is known to cause a blood thickening red blood cell cancer called polycythemia vera when he found that a specific hormone was actually fueling the JAK2 enzyme and causing the cancer to thrive.
“Sometimes cancer cells need other things to help them grow. And this is what I’ve found and it’s a hormone called TNF-alpha,” Dr. Bumm told Ivanhoe. “The first description of this hormone was that it kills cancer cells, and we’ve found now that it actually is completely different it actually helps cancer cells to grow.”
Drugs to help suppress TNF-alpha are already in existence and are used to treat patients with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Bumm thinks these drugs may be effective for treating patients with polycythemia vera.
Although this discovery is promising, Dr. Bumm says it’s very preliminary. “The next step is looking at this more closely, and determining whether TNF-alpha plays a role in other cancers,” said Dr. Bumm.
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SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Thomas Bumm, M.D., American Society of Hematology annual meeting in Atlanta, Dec. 8-11, 2007