Tumori, scoperto il tallone di Achille

Roma, 28 gennaio 2021 – Individuato il tallone d’Achille del cancro: si tratta di una modifica che subiscono a livello genetico le cellule tumorali, detta aneuploidia, che può essere usata come bersaglio per colpire il tumore attraverso alcune molecole. La scoperta, pubblicata sulla rivista Nature, si deve ad un gruppo internazionale di ricerca coordinato dall’università di Tel Aviv, a cui hanno partecipato anche l’Istituto Europeo di Oncologia (Ieo) e l’Università Statale di Milano. L’aneuploidia è un cambiamento nel numero delle copie di cromosomi: tutte le cellule umane hanno 46 cromosomi, mentre quelle tumorali ne hanno spesso di più o di meno. Finora però questo segno distintivo del cancro non era mai stato sfruttato come bersaglio di cura, perché mancavano gli strumenti per creare dei modelli in vitro di cellule aneuploidi. “Abbiamo dimostrato che l’aneuploidia, che si trova nel 90% dei tumori solidi e nel 75% di quelli ematologici, può essere di per sé un bersaglio – chiarisce Stefano Santaguida, uno dei ricercatori – Non solo: abbiamo trovato delle molecole, gli inibitori del cosiddetto Sac (spindle assembly checkpoint), capaci di interferire con l’aneuploidia e sfruttarla per mirare e colpire le cellule cancerose”. I ricercatori dello Ieo hanno creato “delle librerie di linee cellulari aneuploidi – spiega Marica Ippolito, una dei ricercatori – e dimostrato un’alta dipendenza delle cellule aneuploidi dai geni coinvolti nel corretto funzionamento del Sac, il macchinario cellulare deputato alla divisione cellulare, attraverso cui ogni cellula genera due cellule figlie. Inibendo il Sac, le cellule aneuploidi muoiono. Si apre quindi la prospettiva di usare questi inibitori come terapia anticancro”. I ricercatori stanno anche cercando di capire se l’aneuploidia c’entri in qualche modo con lo sviluppo di resistenze alla chemioterapia.

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