Height protein could be cancer and diabetes treatment target

May 16, 2014 by Bronwyn Adams
Height protein could be cancer and diabetes treatment target
Dr Andrew Brooks and Professor Mike Waters

University of Queensland scientists have discovered that a protein that regulates how tall you grow could be used in treating diseases including cancer and diabetes.

Growth hormone, acting through its receptor, determines whether you are struggling to reach high shelves or bumping your head on doorways.

Researchers from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, led by Professor Mike Waters, have now found it is also an untapped target for drugs.

"People without don't die from cancer or diabetes, making it an ideal drug target," Professor Waters said.

"But we didn't know enough about how it functioned to be able to design cancer or that would bind to the receptor and turn it either on or off as appropriate.

"We've now figured out how growth hormone turns on its receptor at the molecular level, and so have a clear idea of which part of the molecule to target to design drugs to combat these diseases."

This is the culmination of 45 years of work studying growth hormone for Professor Waters, who originally cloned the receptor with Genentech, one of the world's leading biotechnology companies.

The discovery was published overnight in Science.

Dr Andrew Brooks, who led the study with Professor Waters, said the discovery had implications beyond cancer and diabetes.

"Growth is one of a group of proteins known as cytokine receptors, which are important targets for therapeutics for a range of disorders, including , blood disorders, osteoporosis and obesity," Dr Brooks said.

"Our understanding of how receptor functions should give us insights into how the other cytokine receptors work, which in turn will inform the design of therapeutics to target these cytokine receptors and to treat many diseases."

Explore further: New target for prostate cancer resistant to anti-hormone therapies

More information: Mechanism of Activation of Protein Kinase JAK2 by the Growth Hormone Receptor, Science, 2014.

Related Stories

Target for obesity drugs comes into focus

October 11, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Michigan have determined how the hormone leptin, an important regulator of metabolism and body weight, interacts with a key receptor in the brain.

Recommended for you

Engineered blood vessels grow in lambs

September 27, 2016

In a hopeful development for children born with congenital heart defects, scientists said Tuesday they had built artificial blood vessels which grew unaided when implanted into lambs, right into adulthood.

Vigilin, the lock keeper

September 27, 2016

ETH researchers have discovered a molecule in liver cells that controls the release of fat into the bloodstream. This "lock keeper" is present in large quantities in overweight people and leads indirectly to vascular narrowing.

Fighting the aging process at a cellular level

September 22, 2016

It was about 400 BC when Hippocrates astutely observed that gluttony and early death seemed to go hand in hand. Too much food appeared to 'extinguish' life in much the same way as putting too much wood on a fire smothers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.