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San Diego Scientists Find a Cancer-Stopping Enzyme

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Aired 8/4/09

San Diego researchers have identified an enzyme that suppresses several cancers, include leukemia. It was a discovery both dramatic and accidental.

— San Diego researchers have identified an enzyme that suppresses several cancers, include leukemia. It was a discovery both dramatic and accidental.

Scientists at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology were testing the PLC-beta 3 enzyme for it's role in causing allergies. But they found that when lab mice were bred to not have the enzyme, they developed cancerous tumors.

It turns out this enzyme suppresses the overproduction of blood cells that can lead to cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. Molecular biologist Toshiaki Kawakami lead the research team.

He said this discovery could theoretically lead to therapies that give people more protection against cancers of the blood. In fact, Kawakami said he was able to deliver the enzyme into the bodies of lab mice, and that did inhibit cancer development. Kawakami's discovery is described in a new article in the journal Cancer Cell.

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