Researchers Link Cancer With Enzyme Shutdown

Sunday - 1/9/2011, 2:27pm EST

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered that a cancer of the digestive tract is linked to a shutdown in an enzyme that helps supply oxygen to cells.

In some cases, the enzyme's failure to function resulted from errors in genes containing the information needed to make the enzyme. In others, the cause could not be identified, but is believed to be genetic.

Gastrointestinal tumors can occur in cells of the nervous system, which control the muscles of the digestive tract.

Within the last 10 years, researchers have found that the majority of adults who develop the tumors have mutations in two genes.

Researcher say that tracing the roots of the disease to cellular respiration has yielded a promising lead on how the tumors might form. The finding may also lead to the development of treatments for types of the tumors that have not responded to traditional therapies.