Researchers at Stony Brook University in collaboration with colleagues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine used DNA sequencing methods to make a new discovery: the direct causation of exposure to aristolochic acid (AA), which is found in a plant that’s been used in herbal remedies for thousands of years, in the development of urothelial cancer.
“Results of our study results not only points to aristolochic acid as being a cause of urothelial cancer, which is an important global health message, but also provides new methods for identifying environmental exposures to aristolochic acid,” said Arthur Grollman, MD, of Stony Brook University.
According to a Stony Brook University news article, the study’s results were reported online in Science Translational Medicine. Co-authors Dr. Rosenquist and Dr. Kinzler sequenced the exome in DNA from both upper urothelial tumor tissue and non-tumor tissue in Taiwanese patients. One of the two sets of patients included people the doctors believed to have been exposed to AA, while the other group included known smokers.
“We detected a very strong ‘mutational signature’ in the AA-associated tumors that was not found in the smoking-associated urothelial tumors or even in any of the more than 800 cancer exome sequences previously known,” said Dr. Rosenquist. “This mutational signature is therefore specific to AA-associated tumors and can be used as a biomarker to determine the involvement of AA in Aristolochia-using populations.”
Stony Brook BioResearch Product Faire™ Event 2012
The researchers believe their findings will have a great impact on global health, as AA is found in plants used for their herbal properties in Asian countries especially.
In addition to contributing a great deal of knowledge to the life sciences, Stony Brook University receives a wealth of funding from the NIH and NSF that may interest lab suppliers marketing life science products and working to sell lab equipment. The NIH awarded Stony Brook University $59.3 million in research funding in 2012. For a full list of departments receiving funding, organized by department name, number of awards received and total funding awarded, please visit the NIH website. In the same year, Stony Brook University received $22.1 million from the NSF. For more information on life science projects receiving NSF funding, organized by funding organization, project title and total funding awarded, please visit the NSF website.
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