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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Researchers at Oakland Research Institute achieve a breakthrough in the fight against cancer

The Mercury News – After spending years focused on one enzyme, Dr. Julie Saba of the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute has made a breakthrough which could help fight cancer growth.

Known by her staff as `Queen of the Lyase,` for ten years Saba has been studying an intestinal enzyme called sphingosine phosphate lyase (SPL), which can regulate cell growth.

According to Saba, SPL naturally decreases cancer cell growth but is de-activated when cancerous cells are present, thus allowing cancer to thrive. `The cancer cells are very smart` said Saba, noting that `cancer cells stop anything` in the way of their progression.

Using cells in a tissue culture Saba said she and her team `have been able to turn-on the enzyme after cancer cell growth had occurred.` The Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that re-introducing the enzyme made chemotherapy more effective in tissue cultures.

`Although we're beginning our studies in colon cancer, we believe our research findings will have a direct impact on investigations for other cancers, including pediatric cancers,` said Saba.

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