Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Laron Syndrome: A key to cancer prevention?

In a current event article by MSNBC, there is a group of Ecuadorian people with the extremely rare disease Laron Syndrome. This disease results in dwarfism, affecting only two-hundred fifty people world wide. In the genes, there is a mutation in the gene that codes the growth hormones in the body, affecting the growth of that particular person with Laron Syndrome. Because of the mutation, people with this disease have low levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1). Why is this disease so special? The Ecuadorian people, because of this disease and low levels of IGF1 are nearly immune to both cancer and diabetes. This is because people with high levels of IGF1 are more at risk for cancer, meaning that they are growing at a faster rate (IGF1 directly influencing the speed at which you cells grow). People who use IGFI as a "steroid" (to grow bigger at a faster rate) are also more likely at risk for cancer and other diseases. (Link)
This article shows the beginning of a potential cure to cancer, if it were possible to lower the levels of IGF1 in high risk people, of all people in general, the risk of cancer would be very, very slim. This article was very uplifting, stating that you don't have to have this disease just to have low levels of IGF1, you can have low levels and not have the disease at all, just be pretty much immune to cancer!
Although this is a good sign, and scientists will further discover ways to lower normal people's IGF1 levels, there is always a risk with playing with someone's genes. If scientists thought that they could change the coding of a person's genes for the sake of making someone immune to cancer and diabetes, one slight mistake could result in difficulties for the rest of their lives, and easily be fatal for that person.
Overall, this article was extremely interesting and informative about the problems and solutions today in cancer research.

For more information, here is the link to the actual article:

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