Scientists investigate “domino effect” in retinoblastoma

Researchers halted the spread of eye cancer in zebra fish with the injection of a medication designed to inhibit part of the disease pathway


Scientists from Johns Hopkins Medicine in the US have reported that a “domino effect” in cells is responsible for the spread of childhood eye cancer.

Writing in Oncogene, researchers described comparing the genetic sequences of eye tumours in children with retinoblastoma whose cancer spread to those that did not spread.

They found that a cellular domino effect was responsible for the spread of disease, suggesting that blocking part of the pathway could prevent disease progression.

The scientists concluded that the activin receptor, which plays a role in other cancers such as gallbladder and breast cancer, could be a key target for preventing the spread of retinoblastoma.

To test the theory, researchers injected human retinoblastoma cells into the eyes of two-day-old zebra fish.

They then monitored the growth of eye tumours over the next four to six days.

The scientists injected some of the eyes with a drug that stops the activin receptor from detecting growth signals.

They observed a 55% reduction in the diameter of eye tumours in fish that received the injection compared to those that did not.