Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, have created a database of information about a group of genes associated with multidrug resistance in cancerous tumors. The research, published in the August 24, 2004, issue of Cancer Cell*, details the gene expression of a 48-member family of proteins called ABC transporters. The NCI scientists identified associations between expression of individual ABC transporters in cancer cells and resistance to specific drugs.
Though ABC transporters are primarily associated with drug resistance, the researchers report an association between some of these proteins and an increase in effectiveness of some cancer drugs. Their database should serve as a starting point for research into novel therapies designed either to evade or exploit the action of ABC transporters.
ABC transport proteins are embedded in the cell membrane and regulate traffic of many molecules, including hormones, lipids, and drugs, in and out of the cell. Because they transport toxic materials out of cells, many of these 48 proteins confer resistance to cancer drugs in humans. The studys lead authors were Jean-Philippe Annereau, Ph.D., and Gergely Szakács, M.D., Ph.D., both visiting fellows at NCIs Center for Cancer Research (CCR). Szakács said, "Multidrug resistance is a major barrier to effective cancer chemotherapy, and even low levels of resistance can have a significant impact on the efficacy of chemotherapy."
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