New Organelle Prevents Cancer
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New Organelle Prevents Cancer

The University of Virginia- School of Medicine Scientists have discovered a new organelle inside the human cells that helps to prevent tumors by ensuring that the chromosomes are sorted correctly as cells divide.

The UVA School of Medicine scientists has connected problems with the organelle to a subset of breast cancer tumors that make lots of errors when while segregating chromosomes.

Interestingly, they found their analysis offered a new way for doctors to sort patient cancer as they choose therapies. They hope the new finding will allow doctors to personalize treatments to best benefit patients better – sparing up to 40% of breast cancer patients. A generalized breast cancer treatment has proven to be inefficient.

P. Todd Stukenberg of the University of Virginia’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and the UVA Cancer Center said that Some percentage of women get chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer that are not very effective. This treatment causes unwanted pain and has adverse side effects on the body.

New Organelle Prevents Cancer- The Disappearing Organelle

The organelle Stukenberg and his team of researchers have discovered essential but transient.  It forms only when required by the cells to ensure chromosomes are

sorted correctly and disappears when its work is done. That’s the primary reason scientists haven’t discovered it before.

Another reason is its mind-bending nature- Stukenberg compares this new organelle to a droplet of liquid that condenses within other liquid. Stukenberg says that it was his wow moment when he saw the phenomenon under the microscope.

New Organelle Prevents Cancer
Researcher P. Todd Stukenberg. Credits Dan Addison, University of Virginia Communications

The droplets act as mixing bowls, concentrating certain cellular ingredients to allow biochemical reactions to occur in a specific location.

You may think of the droplet like oil in water, but it’s the opposite of that. Oil is hydrophobic – it repels water. This new organelle, however, is more sophisticated.

Stukenberg explained that the New Organelle Prevents Cancer is more of a gel. The cellular components can still go in and out, but it contains binding sites that concentrate a small set of the cell’s contents.

While it’s been known for a decade now that cells make such droplets for other processes, it was unknown that they make them on chromosomes during mitosis. Stukenberg & team believes these droplets are very common and more important than previously realized.

New Organelle Prevents Cancer- How Will It Help?

In addition to helping us understand mitosis, The UVA School of Medicine scientists- Stukenberg and the team’s discovery also sheds light on cancer and how it occurs. The organelle’s primary function is to fix errors in tiny microtubules that pull apart chromosomes during cell division. That ensures each cell pairs up with the correct genetic material. In cancer, this repair process is defective, which can drive cancer cells to divide more aggressively.

Stukenberg has also developed tests to measure the amount of chromosome missegregation in tumors, and he hopes that this might allow doctors to pick the proper treatment to give cancer patients.

Having studying breast cancer already, Stukenberg’s next plans to examine the New Organelle Prevents Cancer role in colorectal cancer.

The research work was published in Nature Cell Biology.

Rahul Mishra is a Science enthusiast and eager to learn something new each day. He has a degree in Microbiology and has joined forces with Biotecnika in 2019 due to his passion for writing and science.