Researchers have discovered the first male-only genetic model, the UTY gene, connected to the Y chromosome, that can deliver effective protection against cancer, even against a very invasive type of leukemia, the acute myeloblastic leukemia.
The gene is located on the Y chromosome, previously thought to serve only for the genetic makeup that is essential for turning an embryo into a male.
However, it seems to have an extra coating which shields against acute myeloblastic leukemia, as reported in a study carried out by researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.
The X and Y chromosomes have many common features and genetic material but a limited amount, such as the UTY, is only available on the Y chromosome.
The study team analyzed the UTX gene on the X chromosome in human cells, as well as in mice cells, to better grasp its significance in the occurrence of this kind of leukemia. They discovered that the disappearance of the UTX gene, which is well known to suffer transformations in a number of tumors, hastened the progression of leukemia.
UTY gene trials on human cells and mice showed potentially good results in dealing with acute myeloblastic leukemia
The study also revealed that the UTY gene, the gene attached to the Y chromosome, shielded the male mice which didn’t have the UTX gene against the invasive form of leukemia, as the UTY was able to assume its role in blocking the unregulated growth of cells.
“Our study reinforces the idea that Y chromosome loss may increase the risk of cancer and describes a mechanism of how it can occur,” explained Brian Huntly, a researcher at the University of Cambridge.
At present, the survivability in patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia is extremely slim and therapy is formed by aggressive chemotherapy which is usually accompanied by stem cell therapy. This research, the scientists say, assists them into better comprehending what’s going on wrong at the genes level as leukemia progresses.