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

Healing wounds with cell therapy

May 29, 2017

Diabetic patients frequently have lesions on their feet that are very difficult to heal due to poor blood circulation. In cases of serious non-healing infections, a decision to amputate could be made. A new therapeutic approach, ...

Bioelectricity new weapon to fight dangerous infection

May 26, 2017

Changing the natural electrical signaling that exists in cells outside the nervous system can improve resistance to life-threatening bacterial infections, according to new research from Tufts University biologists. The researchers ...

New hair growth mechanism discovered

May 25, 2017

In experiments in mice, UC San Francisco researchers have discovered that regulatory T cells (Tregs; pronounced "tee-regs"), a type of immune cell generally associated with controlling inflammation, directly trigger stem ...

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.