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Primed for cancer: Li Fraumeni Syndrome and the pre-cancerous niche

21 May 2015
Pan Pantziarka

The complex relationship between tumour and stroma is still being elucidated but it is clear that cancer is a disease of more than just malignant cells. However, the dominant focus of our current understanding of Li Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) remains on the function of p53 as ‘guardian of the genome’. Recent evidence shows that the TP53 gene is at the nexus of a wider range of functions, including aspects of cellular metabolism, aging and immunity. Incorporating this broader picture of the role of TP53 together with our understanding of the role of the host microenvironment in cancer initiation and progression gives a more nuanced picture of LFS. Furthermore, there is clinical evidence to suggest that the host environment in healthy individuals with LFS already includes some of the features of a ‘pre-cancerous niche’ that makes cancer initiation more likely. It is suggested, finally, that there are pharmacological interventions capable of altering this pre-cancerous niche, thus potentially reducing the cancer risk in individuals with LFS.

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