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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cell Methylation and Cancer:

Recent developments in the field of biology have studied the functional processes of genes at the molecular level. Scientists have known for some time that certain sections of the chromosome, called genes, serve essential functions for the health and welfare of the cell and the host organism. There are large areas of the chromosome that were previously regarded as non-functional or “junk” DNA that are now known to have a role in the control of which genes are active (expressed) and which are not. The process of controlling genes through protein molecule messengers is called methylation.

Some genes control the replication of, and also the longevity of the cells that contain them. While we haven’t identified all of these genes, we have learned that, when growth regulating genes are blocked from doing their functions, cells can grow without restraint, causing cancer.

We have now discovered some of the proteins that appear to be responsible for interfering with the balanced and normal functions of a wide variety of regulatory genes. The excessive presence of such proteins in blood or urine (called over-expression) can be used as a measure of the presence of cancer. We still don’t know exactly what causes these proteins to be produced in excessive amounts, nor have we uncovered all the connections between the production of these molecules and the genetic damage caused by asbestos.

However, studies of this area would seem to imply that damage to a cell isn’t automatically a cause for cancer and that other factors come into play.

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