New Strategy Blocks Pro-cancer Protein

BOSTON, June 22 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve developed a way to disable a common protein that often thwarts chemotherapy treatment involving several major forms of cancer.

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said they discovered they could use a small portion of the protein MCL-1 to make a molecular tool that blocks the protein’s pro-tumor activity, allowing standard cancer drugs to kill cancer cells by apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

“We think this is a very important step toward developing an inhibitor of MCL-1, which is emerging as a critical survival factor in a broad range of human cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma and poor-prognosis breast cancer to name just a few,” said Dr. Loren Walensky, a pediatric oncologist and chemical biologist at Dana-Farber and Children’s Hospital Boston, who led the study.

The research that include graduate student Michelle Stewart, as well as Emiko Fire and Amy Keating of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is reported in the early online edition of the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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