Telling Cancer Cells to Knock it Off

Leukemia ccbl function model may help switch off cancer cell division

(RxWiki News) Creating a drug to use only against cancer cells is a bit like using a lock and key. In order to make a key, you need a mold.

Researchers created a computer model of a cell growth protein known as c-Cbl that is frequently mutated in cancer cells, especially acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

This protein in cancer cells is noticeably different than in normal cells, and research shows that in cancer cells, the protein causes tumor growth.

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Research published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology indicates that the protein is responsible for the high growth rate of some cancers, including leukemia.

The model is the first step towards a specific anti-cancer antibody, which would tell the cancer cells to stop dividing.

While clinical benefits from this finding are years down the road, knowing how to find the switch to turn cellular division off in cells could be huge in cancer treatment to stop tumor growth.

“Understanding the structure of this protein is vital because if the protein can’t be switched on it is more likely to cause cancer. So cracking the 3D structure is a step towards designing the cancer drugs of the future.” said Danny Huang, M.D., from Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

The authors declared no competing financial interests.

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Review Date: 
January 30, 2012