Local scientists announced they have found a new mechanism governing the programmed death of cells, providing a new target for cancer treatment and altering a 15-year-old theory on how tumor cell death is controlled.
The work could help limit the types of bad side effects caused by current cancer medicines.
The discovery was published in the latest version of Cell, the world's top biological journal, according to scientists from the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, under Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A cell's life is controlled by its signaling network, in which an enzyme called IκB kinase plays a key role. IκB kinase is an important regulator of immune responses, inflammation, cell survival and tumor growth.
Previously, scientists found that the IκB kinase enzyme can activate an important protein factor in cell reproduction. The abnormal activation of this protein is found in many cancers, so suppression of the protein limits the spread of cancer.
Many medicines are based on targeting this protein or the enzyme, said Lin Anning, the chief research scientist. But they often have many negative side effects for the body, Lin said.
During Lin's research, scientists found the effects of the enzyme on cell survival is also linked to another protein, a death promoter protein that kills cells.
The enzyme normally promotes cell survival through turning on the first protein and turning off the death promoter protein.
Scientists said the death promoter protein can be an ideal target for medicines to kill cancer cells without directly targeting the enzyme or the first protein, thus not causing as many bad side effects.
Lin said cooperation with doctors on the clinical study regarding the new discovery is under discussion. (Shanghai Daily)