Gary J. Gorbsky, Ph.D., a scientist with the Oklahoma Medical Research
Foundation, has found a way to reverse the process of cell division.

The discovery could have important implications for the treatment
of cancer, birth defects and numerous other diseases and disorders.
Gorbsky’s findings appear in the April 13 issue of the journal Nature.

"No one has gotten the cell cycle to go backwards before now,"
said Gorbsky, who holds the W.H. and Betty Phelps Chair in
Developmental Biology at OMRF. "This shows that certain events in the
cell cycle that have long been assumed irreversible may, in fact, be

Cell division occurs millions of times each day in the human
body and is essential to life itself. In the lab, Gorbsky and his OMRF
colleagues were able to control the protein responsible for the
division process, interrupt and reverse the event, sending duplicate
chromosomes back to the center of the original cell, an event once
thought impossible.

"Our studies indicate that the factors pointing cells toward
division can be turned and even reversed," Gorbsky said. "If we wait
too long, however, it doesn’t work, so we know that there are multiple
regulators in the cell division cycle. Now we will begin to study the
triggers that set these events in motion."

The findings may prove important to controlling the development
and metastasis of certain cancers. It also holds promise for the
prevention and treatment of birth defects and a wide variety of other

"Dr. Gorbsky’s results provide elegant proof that the cell
cycle must be precisely controlled," said Dr. Rodger McEver, OMRF vice
president of research. "Now he and his lab can work toward developing
innovative methods to probe and better understand the complex process
of cell division."

Gorbsky heads the Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
Research Program at OMRF and holds both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in biology
from Princeton University. He is also adjunct professor of Cell Biology
at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a member of
the OU Cancer Institute. His research focuses on mitosis and
cytokinesis, the processes involved in cell division, and he has earned
international recognition for his work in the area of chromosomal
movement and cell cycle control.

By Adam Cohen