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New research: Killing the messenger stops cancer cell growth

By Lesley Lanir     Jul 12, 2012 in Science
Tel Aviv - Research scientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute have found a way of blocking one type of molecular message that causes rampant cellular growth.
Cancer cells normally receive chemical messages instructing them to multiply prolifically without restraint; this is life-enhancing for the cancer cell but nonetheless, life-threatening for the cancer patient.
A press release states that scientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute have now discovered how to prohibit one particular multiplication message from reaching a cell's nucleus, and its DNA.
Messages are usually chemically relayed through a molecular chain reaction. For a message to be transmitted from a cell's membrane to its nucleus, it has to cross a distance of less than a micrometer. This may seem like a short journey, but in human terms it equates to approximately 30 miles. This is the journey that the research team have found a way of halting.
Over 20 years ago Prof. Rony Seger of the Weizmann Institute’s Biological Regulation Department was part of a team that discovered a molecular 'message' chain which included the enzymes MEK1, MEK2, ERK1 and ERK2 and identify a segment in the enzymes called NTS.
By Nephron via Wikimedia Commons
Four years ago, Seger and his team revealed that messages can enter the cell’s nucleus if phosphorus molecules are added to the NTS segment.
When the team created a small peptide mimicking the NTS, the message could not reach the nucleus, so the cell stopped growing. It was as if the 'fake' NTS had blocked the multiplication message.
In the news release it is stated that:
"In experiments with mice, the peptide effectively blocked the development of several types of cancer, particularly melanoma: Not only did the tumors stop growing, they disappeared entirely."
Seger's findings are being considered for use in biotechnological applications
More about cancer cell research, Weizmann Institute, Scientific research, Cancer research
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