When fighting cancerous growths, it is very important to use internal cellular mechanisms on top of various external impacts on the tumor. Among internal mechanisms is cells’ ability for “suicide” - programmed cell death, which is called apoptosis. The cells resort to apoptosis when something is irreparably broken in them and the cells need to perform self-destruction to avoid causing damage to the entire organism. Apoptosis is executed by intracellular protease enzymes (they are called caspases). Caspases destroy target proteins located in the cytoplasm and the cell’s nucleus. Cellular genome is also the target of caspases’ action. Caspases’ activation occurs as a result of a complicated chain of biochemical reactions which are launched specifically by special receptors on the cellular membrane. Specialists call them dreadly – “receptors of death”.
Unfortunately, cancerous cells, on top of their ability for uncontrolled reproduction, also possess a striking capability for survival. As the contents of caspases’ predecessors – procaspases – and accordingly that of caspases may be reduced in the cancerous cells, induction of apoptosis in these cells is difficult. If the content could be increased, physicians would get an efficient instrument to fight this fatal disease. Solution of this problem is addressed by the joint project of Russian and American researchers from the Center for Theoretical Problems of Physicochemical Pharmacology (project manager - Mikhail Khanin, Doctor of Science (Engineering), Professor, the Lenin prize laureate) and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA (project manager – Scott Harold Kaufmann, prominent researcher of apoptosis, Professor, Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine).
The project has been sponsored by the international foundation CRDF and the Federal Agency for Science and Innovations (Rosnauka). The researchers are planning to solve the task by a combination of mathematical modelling and biochemical methods. “Mathematical models are increasingly recognized in recent years as an efficient method for investigation of execution behaviour of complicated biochemical systems, points out Mikhail Khanin. These systems are nonlinear, and their behavior has typical properties; for example, threshold effects. All these dynamic properties can be predicted and described with the help of mathematical modelling and subsequent computer simulation.”
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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