Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wrong proteins targeted in battle against cancer?

02.10.2002


Lasker recipient James E. Darnell contends drug developers should focus more on ’transcription factor’ proteins



Researchers may be looking for novel cancer drugs in the wrong places, says Rockefeller University Professor James E. Darnell, Jr., M.D., in an article in this month’s Nature Reviews Cancer.

Darnell, who received the 2002 Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science, argues that drug development research should focus more on a specific group of proteins - called transcription factors - known to be overactive in almost all human cancers.


"The facts indicate that a limited number of transcription factors are indeed overactive in many cancers and that these overactive proteins themselves are appropriate drug targets," says Darnell, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at Rockefeller and co-author of the popular textbook Molecular Cell Biology.

These transcription factors include STAT3, discovered by Darnell and colleagues in 1994, STAT5, NF-kappaB, B-catenin, Notch, GLI and c-JUN - all of which play significant roles in a wide variety of cancers.

According to Darnell, drug developers continue to largely ignore these seemingly universal molecules of cancer because, unlike other cancer-causing proteins called protein kinases, transcription factors do not posses "active sites" or pockets that can be easily fitted with small inhibitory drugs.

Instead, drugs designed against transcription factors would have to target protein-protein interactions - which, because of their larger surface areas, are much harder to disrupt.

Still, Darnell argues that, despite inherent obstacles, such an approach could potentially yield novel cancer therapeutics.

"After all," he asks, "What is the benefit to medicine in all the twenty-first century promise of proteomics if we cannot selectively inhibit protein-protein interactions?"

Many of the transcription factors involved in cancer normally allow a healthy cell to respond to signals from the external environment by activating the "expression" of certain genes, which then leads to the production of new proteins. In cancer - which is characterized by cell growth gone awry - genetic mutations cause these proteins, also referred to as "oncogenic proteins," to become unusually active.

Therefore, drugs designed to block or decrease their surplus activity might effectively treat this disease.

"Transcription factors are attractive targets because they are both less numerous than other signaling activators and are at a focal point of many cancer pathways," says Darnell.

"Like kicking Achilles in the heel, striking at these targets would constitute a more global approach to fighting cancer."

In the past, drug developers in search of cancer therapeutics have placed a large focus on cancer-causing molecules called protein kinases, primarily because their active sites - tiny crevices where small molecules normally bind and activate the protein - can be easily blocked with small molecule drugs. The drug Gleevec, for example, can temporarily treat chronic myeloid leukemia by fitting into and plugging up the active site of a protein kinase, called the Ableson kinase, associated with this disease.

But, according to Darnell, this approach has two main drawbacks. First, as is the case with Gleevec, resistance to the drugs can develop, and, second, each of the protein kinases tends to be associated with only a limited number of cancer types.

Darnell argues that both of these obstacles could possibly be overcome by instead targeting certain transcription factors. He says that these proteins should not develop resistance to drugs as fast as protein kinases, and, because they are common to many cancers, drugs designed to block them should work against a diverse range of cancer types.

The final challenge is then how to target molecules that lack the convenient active sites of protein kinases. Drugs directed against transcription factors would have to prevent them from binding to one of their two primary molecular targets: DNA or proteins. To turn on specific genes, transcription factors must bind to other proteins as well as to DNA.

Since past efforts to develop drugs that disrupt DNA-protein interactions have failed, Darnell believes that targeting protein-protein interactions is the next logical step.

"With the availability of robotic screening procedures, huge chemical libraries need to be screened for small molecules that target any of the specific protein-protein interactions of transcription factors," he says.

"Even though this approach is more difficult," he adds, "It has proved practical in one preliminary case, and furthermore many inventive technologies from chemistry labs around the world give hope that this approach has great possibilities."

Whitney Clavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rockefeller.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Using fragment-based approaches to discover new antibiotics
21.06.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht Scientists learn more about how gene linked to autism affects brain
19.06.2018 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>