If your hair has a cowlick, you know how frustrating those wayward tresses can be. It's almost as if those stray hairs had a mind of their own, since trying to make them lie flat with a brush or a blow dryer usually ends up in failure.
It turns out cowlicks do have a mind of their own, sort of. They're controlled by polarity genes, which, among other things, help cells migrate from one place to another. When cells become cancerous, a key protein that governs this polarity is switched off, allowing them to run amok through the body.
That was the exciting news that a team of researchers from Michigan State University uncovered in a new study. That same protein also suppresses a tumor that causes a common eye cancer in children.
Researchers made the discovery in fruit flies, which have a similar genetic structure to humans. The hope is that the finding will lead to targeted treatments to restore the protein's anti-cancer role in repairing DNA and cell mutations.
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