Scientists have discovered a "missing link" in the way cells protect themselves from cancer by studying the p53 gene. While the gene was discovered 30 years ago, understanding how it works to regulate cells continued to be a mystery until now.
P53 helps maintain body health by telling damaged cells to commit suicide and to stop cells from dividing during certain repair work. In half of all cancer cases, p53 is damaged or inactive, which lets damaged cells keep dividing and form cancer.
Researchers also discovered that p53 makes a "control switch" called an isoform which was shown to cause damaged cells to regenerate in zebrafish exposed to radiation. When zebrafish without the isoform were exposed to the same radiation, they died.