Cancer cells can be destroyed by blocking single protein
29 July 2013
Research at Southampton University has discovered a protein that has
no function in normal cells but is important to the survival of
cancerous cells. A treatment that blocks this protein could represent a
significant breakthrough in the future of cancer treatment.
Traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy cause damage to healthy
cells, and other more targeted treatments are usually only effective
for individual types of cancer. Contrastingly, this new development
does not damage healthy cells and could also be used to treat a wide
variety of different cancers.
Chris Proud, Professor of Cellular Regulation in Biological
Sciences at the University of Southampton said, "Cancer cells grow
and divide much more rapidly than normal cells, meaning they have a
much higher demand for and are often starved of, nutrients and
oxygen. We have discovered that a cellular component, eEF2K, plays a
critical role in allowing cancer cells to survive nutrient
starvation, whilst normal, healthy cells do not usually require
eEF2K in order to survive. Therefore, by blocking the function of
eEF2K, we should be able to kill cancer cells, without harming
normal, healthy cells in the process."
Professor Proud and the team are now working with other labs,
including pharmaceutical companies, to develop and test drugs that
block eEF2K, which could potentially be used to treat cancer in the
future. The research has been published in the journal Cell.