The study, published today in Nature Communications, explains how this tiny 'railway' system is a key target for cancer drugs and, as such, how this new discovery reveals how better drugs might be made. The tracks of this so called 'railway' are tiny tubes, called microtubules, 1000 times thinner than a human hair.
Researchers at Warwick Medical School have found that the minuscule tracks of a cellular railway system have a line of weakness, which tends to crack and cause the tracks to dissolve. Cancer drugs already target these microscopic railway tracks, which are called microtubules and are a thousand times thinner than a human hair.
Credit: Prof. Robert Cross, Warwick Medical School
The research shows that a narrow seam that runs along the length of the microtubules is the weakest point. If the seam cracks and splits, the microtubule dissolves.
It has been known for some time that microtubules have a single seam that zips the structure together along its length, but the function of this seam has evaded scientists until now. By building microtubules with extra seams in the laboratory, and examining their stability using video microscopes, the researchers found that the more seams the microtubule has, the more unstable it becomes.
The new work dramatically alters thinking on how the microtubule system works and the search is now on for factors inside the cell that influence the stability of microtubule seams.
Microtubules are a validated target for cancer therapy drugs. For example Taxol™, used in breast cancer therapy, binds to microtubules and stops the microtubule from dissolving. This means the microtubule tracks cannot remodel themselves prior to cell division, which in turn stops the cells dividing, thus arresting the growth of cells including those forming cancerous tumours.
Professor Robert Cross, head of the research team at Warwick Medical School, explained, "It is clear that any new drugs aiming to stabilize or destabilize microtubules must target the microtubule seam. We expect this to lead us to a better understanding of the way microtubules are regulated in cells and why this sometimes goes wrong, such as in development of cancer."
"Our findings help us to understand how some existing cancer treatment drugs actually work and this in turn should lead to development of new generations of better and more effective anti-microtubule drugs."
The research was funded by the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Luke Harrison | EurekAlert!
Exploring a new frontier of cyber-physical systems: The human body
18.05.2015 | National Science Foundation
Soft-tissue engineering for hard-working cartilage
18.05.2015 | Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.
Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...
Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services
To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...
The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...
On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.
RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...
Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA - without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.
To make the nanosponge-hydrogel, the team mixed nanosponges, which are nanoparticles that absorb dangerous toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli and other...
20.05.2015 | Event News
18.05.2015 | Event News
12.05.2015 | Event News
22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2015 | Information Technology
22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences