Scientists Disarm Cancer Protein

New technique neutralizes 'undruggable' factor
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 1:45 AM CST
The protein, called NOTCH, drives the uncontrolled cell growth that fuels tumors when it mutates.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Scientists believe they have found a way to neutralize a protein involved in cancer formation that was previously considered "undruggable." The researchers, experimenting on mice, created chemical "staples" to mold snippets of protein into shapes capable of disrupting the protein's function. The protein is linked to runaway cell growth in leukemia and other cancers, but it was disarmed by the stapled peptides in tests, and tumors receded.

The research is "very interesting," a cancer research expert told the BBC. "The new chemical has only been tested in mice so far, and so we don't know how it will behave in humans," he said. "But, long-term, it may lead to alternative drugs and better treatments for this kind of leukemia and maybe other cancers."