Halting the development of certain pancreatic, ovarian, colon and lung cancers may be possible with therapy based on recent Purdue University research.
These two images show the development of human cells with (above) and without (below) the normal concentration of the protein Ras in their cell membranes. The cells on the right have the protein Ras scattered throughout their cytoplasm, in contrast with the normally developed cells on the left. The absence of the enzyme Icmt prevents Ras from lodging in the membrane, where it ordinarily performs tasks vital to cellular reproduction. Purdue research suggests that preventing Icmt from interacting with Ras during the proteins development may inhibit the runaway cell growth that is characteristic of cancer, thus leading to new approaches to treating several forms of the disease. (M. Bergo, Journal of Biological Chemistry)
By investigating a single molecule that influences cell growth, a research group in the Purdue Cancer Center, including Brian S. Henriksen, has gained new insight into the chain of events that make some cancer cells divide uncontrollably – insight that may eventually lead to a way to break that chain, stopping cancer in its tracks. The molecule, known as Icmt, has a critical role in the development of Ras, an ordinarily beneficial protein that tells a cell to divide. The research group has determined how to inhibit Icmts influence on Ras, without which the protein cannot develop effectively into an instigator of cell growth.
"A tumor can be seen as cells that forget to stop dividing, and misdeveloped Ras is responsible for some instances of uncontrolled growth," said Henriksen, a graduate student in medicinal chemistry and medical pharmacology in Purdues School of Pharmacy. "When Ras develops a mutation, it does its job incorrectly, and it becomes a hazard to the body. Our work with Icmt might lead to therapies that could stop errant Ras from causing tumors to progress."
Chad Boutin | Purdue News
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