Health SystemSchool of MedicineMedical CenterMedical Group
UCDHS logo periodical
Campus Connection

Kinetochore junction

Both situations are dangerous because of the havoc they can cause inside the body. Chromosome abnormalities seen in leukemia, lymphoma and colorectal cancers are believed to contribute to the malignancy of these tumors by chromosomal errors made during cell division. These tumors have high levels of aneuploid cells, cells with an incorrect number of chromosomes. The more aneuploid a tumor is, the worse the prognosis.

"They often have more chromosomes than they need and it's thought that this gives them a growth advantage as a tumor cell," said Kaplan, who published a paper about kinetochores in the journal Nature Cell Biology last spring.

No one knows for sure why certain events in cell division go awry. But Kaplan and other researchers believe that by studying kinetochores, scientists can design drugs that target these structures. For example, by understanding how kinetochores sense they are attached or unattached to microtubules, scientists could develop drugs that fool tumor cells into thinking they are unattached, causing the checkpoint mechanism to jump into action and stop them from dividing.

"Any time you find a biochemical system that is controlling cell growth, it seems that it would be a good target to stop tumor cells from growing," he said.

These drugs could be used in combination with other therapies already in use that hone in on cell division problems. However, kinetochore drug development is probably 10 to 20 years down the road, Kaplan said. Researchers must first fine tune their knowledge of chromosomal mishaps.


Home | Table of Contents | To our Readers | Building on Basics
Focusing on Patients | In Translation | First Steps
Campus Connection | Benefactors | News in Brief

UC Davis Health System | © 2000, 2001, 2002 UC Regents. All rights reserved.

Message to Editor
Supporting Cancer Center
UC Davis Cancer CenterUC Davis Health System