Mayo Clinic LogoThyroid cancer is considered as the sixth most common cancer in the world. Around 15 to 20 percent of all thyroid cancer cases appear follicular, which is a more aggressive type. Mayo Clinic experts have now found a mutant gene that inhibits the spread of malignant cells. The gene may be a fruitful target for fighting thyroid cancer.

While conducting the research, it was pointed out that the PAX8/PPAR fusion protein seems to be developed from a mutated fusion gene located in many follicular thyroid carcinomas. It probably functions as a tumor suppressor by promoting the natural production of microRNA-122 and PTEN. PAX8/PPAR seems to be the result of the translocation of genetic material between human chromosomes 2 and 3.

“There are many complications from thyroid surgery, and having early detection markers could save thousands of unnecessary surgeries every year. We’re just getting started and look towards a rapid translation from bench to bedside,” shared Mayo Clinic researcher Honey Reddi, Ph.D.

In vivo animal studies concluded that PAX8/PPAR upregulates the well-known anti-cancer protein PTEN as well as microRNA-122. It has high chances of purportedly facilitating other cancer-fighting molecules. However, PAX8/PPAR may not encourage tumor progression when exposed to cancerous cells. In fact, it possibly facilitates other native anti-cancer molecules to outweigh the tumor propagation. Tumors were found to grow about four times slower in mice exposed to the PAX8/PPAR gene than those who were deprived of the protein’s cancer-fighting qualities.

The research will be presented at the Endocrine Society meeting in Boston.