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POKEMON Causes Cancer

This seems like one of those parody stories, but it's real. The researchers who named this gene definitely have a very dark sense of humor.
NEW YORK, January 20, 2005 - Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) have identified a new cellular oncogene essential for the development of cancer. Oncogenes are genes that, when mutated or dysfunctional, lead normal cells to become cancerous. The investigators have named the gene POKEMON (for POK Erythroid Myeloid Ontogenic factor). The work is being published in the January 20, 2005, issue of Nature.

"There are a number of genes that can cause cancer, the so-called oncogenes, but Pokemon is unique in that it is needed for other oncogenes to cause cancer." said MSKCC cancer geneticist Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, the senior author of the study. "More important, because the Pokemon protein plays such a crucial role in the formation of cancer, it could prove to be an effective target for new drug therapies."

...

"Pokemon is a main switch in the molecular network that leads toward cancer," Dr. Pandolfi added. "If we could turn Pokemon off, it may block this oncogenic circuitry and stall the malignant process."
Thanks to skyknyt for this very serious news.

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