Cancer cells can revert to harmless cells by switching off a single gene, shows a study of liver cancer in mice.
The gene, which produces a protein called MYC - pronounced "mick" - usually controls cell division. It is implicated in several human cancers, where overexpression of the protein causes rapid cell division, forming tumours.
In the new study, researchers used transgenic &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/fun/2002/08/19/34810.html ' target=_blank>mice in which the MYC gene was constantly switched ‘on’ so that too much MYC &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/culture/2001/08/28/13646.html ' target=_blank>protein was produced, inducing liver cancer in the mice.
Giving the mice the common antibiotic doxycycline turned the gene ‘off’, and the cells reverted to normal liver cells, but were not destroyed.