Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover new weapon in fight against cervical cancer

31.05.2013
Scientists at the University of Leeds have found a way to target and destroy a key protein associated with the development of cervical and other cancers.

The E7 protein is produced early in the lifecycle of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and blocks the body's natural defences against the uncontrolled division of cells that can lead to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Leeds' School of Molecular and Cellular Biology have synthesised a molecule, called an RNA aptamer, that latches onto the carcinogenic protein and targets it for destruction, significantly reducing its presence in cells in the laboratory derived from cervical cancers.

There are many types of human papillomavirus. Some are transmitted by sexual contact and associated not only with cervical cancer but also head and neck cancer. Although an increasing proportion of young women in the United Kingdom are vaccinated against the virus, most women in their mid-20s or older are not vaccinated and many may already be HPV positive.

"We therefore need to maintain screening and to develop novel therapeutic strategies," lead researcher Dr Nicola Stonehouse said. "Currently, if you have advanced cervical cancer or head and neck cancer—both of which are associated with human papillomavirus—you really have little choice but surgery. If we can use this aptamer to target the carcinogenic protein, we might be talking about much less radical surgery in the future."

Aptamers are a relatively new tool for molecular biologists and a topic of intense research interest. Like the much better understood antibodies, aptamers can identify and target other molecules as well as viruses and bacteria. However, unlike traditional antibodies, they offer the possibility of insertion into live cells and can be artificially designed in the test tube.

The Leeds team, which received funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research and the BBSRC, was originally looking for an aptamer for use as a research tool.

"We were not trying to develop a therapy. We wanted to create better ways of looking at the virus infection because the current tools that we have are very limited," Dr Stonehouse said. "But what we found was that the aptamers caused the E7 protein to actually disappear. They seem to target it to be degraded. In a cell which is producing lots of E7 and is therefore dangerous, the level of E7 goes down if these RNA aptamers are there".

The new study is based on laboratory cell lines rather than real cancer cases, but the discovery of a molecule that targets one of the key proteins involved in HPV-related cancers raises the possibility of less invasive treatments.

The new aptamer might be used in the future to help stop residual cancerous material from re-establishing itself after surgery and therefore allow less aggressive approaches to surgery. The next challenge is to effectively target the new aptamer at real cancers.

The paper is published in the journal PLOS One.

Further information:

Dr Nicola Stonehouse is available for interview. Contact: Chris Bunting, Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone: +44 113 343 2049 or email c.j.bunting@leeds.ac.uk

The full paper: Clare Nicol, Özlem Cesur, Sophie Forrest, Tamara Belyaeva, David Bunka, G. Eric Blair, Nicola Stonehouse, 'An RNA aptamer provides a novel approach for the induction of apoptosis by targeting the HPV16 E7 oncoprotein,' PLOS ONE (2013) (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064781; URL: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0064781)

Chris Bunting | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

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...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

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...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>