Kansas State UniversityRetinoblastoma is said to be a rare kind of eye cancer that may generally develop in early childhood, usually prior to the age of 5. This type of cancer apparently develops in the retina, which is the specific light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that could identify light and color.

A research seems to have resulted in findings that may extend the vision of children suffering from retinoblastoma. Dolores Takemoto, a Kansas State University professor of biochemistry who was investigating protein kinase C gamma in the lens of the human eye supposedly found a relation between the protein Coonexin46 and hypoxia, a deficiency of oxygen which appears to destroy standard tissue cells.

As per the data, Coonexin46, or Cx46, seems to emerge in the body during these levels of low oxygen. Apart from the eye, which is said to be one of the body’s only physically arising hypoxic tissue, Cx46 is also there in cancer cells as the cells are believed to seal themselves off from the oxygen carried by the blood vessels, therefore developing a hypoxic environment. Takemoto is of the opinion that these discoveries may result in crucial progress in treating retinoblastoma.

Once an eye turns cancerous, apparently, it has to be eradicated to thwart the tumor from scattering. It so frequently happens that by the time the tumor is detected in one eye, it has already extended to the second, thereby resulting in permanent blindness.

Takemoto is of the opinion that siRNA medication may be developed which could be injected monthly into the noncancerous eye, thus averting tumor development. siRNA, or small interfering ribonucleic acid, is said to be a group of double-stranded RNA molecules that may be utilized to hamper with the expression of a particular gene. In this case, siRNA could repress Cx46, which may enable a tumor to be present in a hypoxic environment. In this way, the tumor may be averted from developing at the early hypoxic stage.

By using a mouse model for retinoblastoma, Takemoto lab has apparently discovered that use of siRNA to lower the levels of Cx46 may put off tumor development. During her trials with Cx46, Takemoto teamed up with Thu Annelise Nguyen, associate professor of toxicology at K-State. The two checked biopsies of MCF-7 breast cancer, where they also discovered Cx46 to be present.

Takemoto commented, “Any time there’s a drop in oxygen within the body, Cx46 appears.”

Apart from treating tumors, Takemoto is of the opinion that these discoveries may aid with treatment in acute or chronic heart disease, heart attacks, retinal ischemia, ischemia of the brain, blood pressure problems and glaucoma plus for health applications in animals.

These findings were published in an online edition of the International Journal of Cancer.