The study, published in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Pathology, is the first to identify how EphB4 – a protein that sits on the surface of cells – functions.
"The important aspect of this study is that … if we turn the protein [EphB4] off, the tumor cells die, which means that its function helps the cancer cells survive," says Parkash S. Gill, MD, a professor of medicine in the Keck School and the study's senior author.
The scientists used a fluorescent dye attached to the protein's antibody to reveal the protein's location on the tumor cells.
"The first step was to identify whether it's there [on cancer cells] and how often," he explained. "We found that it was present on 60 percent of the tumors … and it's expressed from the very first stage of the cancer formation."
The next step was to determine EphB4's purpose. What the scientists discovered was that EphB4 serves as a sentry, guarding the tumor cells from any defenses the body deploys to attack them.
"There are means in the body to kill tumor cells," Gill says. "[If] you block those then you give the cells the opportunity to survive and grow." Not only did EphB4 block those defenses, but it helped the cancer cells flourish by issuing a call for more blood vessels – the biological equivalent of food for the tumor.
"The tumor cell carrying this protein … on its surface communicates with blood vessels nearby," Gill says. "It sends the signal for more blood vessels to grow. One key item for any cancer to grow is to include more blood vessels."
The goal of a future anti-cancer therapy would be to block the protein, essentially knocking out one of the tumor cell's guardians. A similar approach was used to develop Herceptin, one of the first biological treatments for breast cancer. Herceptin targets the her2 protein, which is found on the surface of tumor cells about 20 percent of the time, says Gill.
The her2 protein played a role in this study as well. That protein, along with several of its cousins, was found to activate EphB4, he said. "There are certain growth factors that can make this particular protein (EphB4) go up," Gill says. "We are learning more about how this protein is turned on and off in a cancer cell."
Kathleen O'Neil | EurekAlert!
New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)
Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy