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January 9, 1987

First Anti-oncogene Discovered; Linked to the Development of Retinoblastoma

JAMA. 1987;257(2):152. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390020018005

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ONCOGENES are no longer the only genes associated with carcinogenesis. The first anti-oncogene has been identified. It is linked to the development of the childhood cancer retinoblastoma, and investigators think that anti-oncogenes may play a role in other cancers as well.

Anti-oncogenes, as their name implies, are the inverse of oncogenes. While oncogenes are genes that promote carcinogenesis when they are inappropriately activated, anti-oncogenes are genes that do so when they are inappropriately inactivated.

The mechanism of the retinoblastoma anti-oncogene has been described by a team of investigators at the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Webster K. Cavenee, PhD, director, Ludwig Cancer Centre, McGill, explained how they determined the gene's function at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Human Genetics in Philadelphia.

Cavenee reported that he and his coworkers built their investigation on a substantial body of knowledge accumulated by several