University of Utah scientists said their genetically engineered, cancer-stricken mice were used to determine synovial sarcoma develops in muscle cell precursors known as myoblasts, most often in teenagers and young adults.
"The only way to develop a therapy that is specific for this cancer is to understand how it works and the mouse gives you that possibility," said study leader Professor Mario Capecchi, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
However, Capecchi said a treatment for synovial sarcoma based on the new finding remains at least a decade away. Nevertheless, there also is a wider promise.
"First you can design and evaluate new treatments for this specific cancer and, second, you can design therapy for sarcomas in general" because they share many common features with synovial sarcoma, said the study's first author, Malay Haldar, a human genetics graduate student who works in Capecchi's laboratory.
The research is reported as the cover story in the April issue of the journal Cancer Cell.