Hundreds of cancer-linked genes play a different role in causing disease than scientists had expected.
So-called tumor suppressor genes have long been known to block cell growth, preventing cancerous cells from spreading. Mutations in these genes, scientists believed, thus allow tumors to flourish unchecked.
Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Stephen Elledge’s team has uncovered a surprising new action for many of these defective genes. More than 100 mutated tumor suppressor genes can prevent the immune system from spotting and destroying malignant cells in mice , Elledge, a geneticist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, reports September 16, 2021, in the journal Science. “The shock was that these genes are all about getting around the immune system, as opposed to simply saying ‘grow, grow, grow!'” he says.
Conventional wisdom had suggested that, for the vast major of…