NEW YORK — Scientists say they have taken a leap toward figuring out how a cancer-suppressing gene makes dangerous cells die.
The work might help researchers understand how radiation therapy and some chemotherapy kill cancers.
The gene is called p53. When it turns on, it can block a cell's attempt to reproduce itself or make it commit suicide. In these ways, it can keep a cell with damaged DNA from creating a cancerous tumor.
To study how p53 causes cell suicide, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore identified 14 genes that p53 turns on before suicide occurs.
It's not clear which of the 14 genes are responsible for this process, but it's probably a combination, the researchers said.