(dailyRx News) Researchers are always looking for new ways to selectively attack cancers while leaving healthy cells alone, as many of the most common treatments for cancer involve some unfortunate friendly fire.
In that spirit, a group of scientists have found a piece of cellular machinery that is essential for leukemia cells, but not for healthy cells.
Targeting the PRC2 chromatin regulator, a protein that edits DNA, effectively destroys the ability of cancer cells in acute myeloid leukemia to reproduce.
Researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory used the Nobel Prize winning technology called RNA interference to identify the cellular target, known as Brd4, (part of the chromatin regulator PRC2). Develoment of a drug targeting Brd4 is already underway.
"In our new screen, PRC2 was one of the few chromatin regulators that was needed by cancer cells, but dispensable for normal blood cells," stated an author of the study, Eric Wang.
The ability of healthy cells to live without PRC2 means that this drug would destroy cancerous cells and leave normal non-cancerous cells unaffected.
The study used specific strains of mice bred for previous research on leukemia. Researchers tests possible molecular targets in series until a likely candidate was found.
Research was published April 3, 2012 in the journal Oncogene, link available below.
Funding for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's research falls under its auspice as a private, not-for-profit institution.