Disrupting cell signals may lead to new cancer treatments

April 29, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists have taken a major step towards developing new treatments for certain cancers by disrupting the internal cellular signals that lead to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells.

It is hoped that this breakthrough will open the door to a new generation of therapies that specifically target fast growing without the need for heavy doses chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

This discovery hinges on the fact that some cancers are caused by disruptions to specific signalling pathways found within cells. Researchers at the University of Glasgow discovered a method of breaking the signalling pathways that are expressing cancerous genes, which will allow them to significantly slow tumour growth.

Dr George Baillie, the Principal Investigator on the project, said: This is tremendously exciting leap forward in the search for more effective cancer treatments. Controlling this activity within cells gives us the real potential to help where cannot be used, and we hope that this discovery opens the door for new ways of fighting the disease."

The hope is that this breakthrough has the potential to lead to a new generation of drugs that will significantly slow and tumour growth.

Growth and division of cells is regulated, in part, by one particular cellular pathway called mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). The MAPK pathway controls a variety of including cell division and . It also coordinates the cell's responses towards various external stress factors which threaten its stability.

However, the MAPK pathway often becomes disrupted during the onset of certain cancers, causing tumours to form.

A team of scientists have successfully designed and synthesised a custom built molecule, or peptide agent, in the laboratory which is capable of passing undetected into the cell and disrupting the MAPK signalling channel where it is orchestrating .

To disrupt the MAPK signalling channel researchers needed to locate located a particular signalling node within the pathway that regulates its action. At this point, two specific enzymes, Raf-1 and PDE8A, bind together causing a reaction that significantly boosts cell growth.

Researchers were able to map the interaction of the surfaces between the two enzymes and develop a new peptide molecule that could permeate the cell membrane and then disassemble the Raf-1 – PDE8A complex.

This action breaks the MAPK signalling pathway and significantly slows cell replication and tumour growth in instances where cancerous genes are being expressed.

The full research paper is published in the journal Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences (PNAS). You can read it in full on their website: www.pnas.org/content/110/16/E1533.short

Explore further: Exploring the relation between stem cells and tumor growth

Related Stories

Exploring the relation between stem cells and tumor growth

July 16, 2012
An EU research project has shed light on the tumor-growth role of a key-signalling pathway in mammary gland stem cells.

Research makes significant cancer breakthrough

August 8, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A major breakthrough by scientists at Queen's University Belfast could lead to more effective treatments for throat and cervical cancer. The discovery could see the development of new therapies, which ...

Fasting time for tumour cells

March 15, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Tumours need a steady supply of sufficient nutrients to be able to grow. In order to secure the nutrient availability, they secrete messenger compounds to stimulate neighbouring blood vessels to proliferate ...

Recommended for you

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

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.