Duke-NUS Medical School discovers protein complex which 'disrupts tumour development'

Researchers at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School have discovered a protein complex which they say can disrupt a process known to promote tumour development.

Known as dedifferentiation, the process causes tumours by leading mature cells to become ectopic neural stem cells. These cells undergo uncontrolled growth which eventually leads to the development of brain tumours.

The team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Wang Hongyan conducted a study using the brains of fruit flies and uncovered a protein complex which can prevent the formation of ectopic neural stem cells. The flies' neural stem cells are similar to those of humans.

The discovery will provide insight on how the tumour development process can be inhibited - an area that was "previously poorly understood," the school said in a statement. It will also help with the "development of future cancer therapies".

The research was published online in scientific journal eLIFE on Tuesday and is supported by the National Research Foundation, the Prime Minister's Office and Duke-NUS Signature Research Program. Funding for the research came from Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, and the Ministry of Health.

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