News Brief: Geneticist Delivers Invited Keynote at Plant Hormone Conference

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 – A Georgetown University geneticist was invited to deliver one of the keynote addresses at a recent conference in Jerusalem.

Ronit Yarden, PhD, assistant professor of human science at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, discussed her research on cancer and plant hormones.

Yarden specifically addressed strigolactones – a recently discovered class of plant hormones and characterized her research team “as the pioneering lab that studies strigolactones’ potential as an anti-cancer agent.”

Preventing Recurrence

"Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide with lung, colon, breast and prostate cancers causing the most cancer deaths each year,” Yarden says.  “The current treatment modalities mainly target the fast growing tumor mass, leaving behind slow growing tumor cells that have the potential to re-emerge and become resistant to therapy.”

She says that the plant hormones may have the potential to inhibit cancer cell growth – specifically cancer stem cells – because they regulate plant stem cells.

“Our goal is to develop new therapies that will eliminate the cancer stem cells that are thought to be responsible for cancer recurrence,” she says.  “If strigolactones can inhibit plant stem cells, they may be able to inhibit the cancer stem cells.”

The event was sponsored by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) through the STREAM (STRigolactone Enhanced Agricultural Methodologies) Action initiative.

By Bill Cessato