Scientists Say Cell Enzyme is Cancer Clue

RICHMOND, Va., June 18 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve discovered how enzymes can control growth in melanoma cells, a result that could lead to more effective cancer treatment drugs.

An enzyme discovered in 2003 could be used to target a specific genetic component with the cancer cells that makes them resistant to current therapies, a Thursday release from Virginia Commonwealth University said.

Melanoma is the most serious and difficult to treat form of skin cancer, the release said.

By targeting the component within the cells regulating growth, progression and resistance to therapy, “it may be possible to turn the cancer cells’ defense into an offense that can be used as an effective approach to destroy the tumor,” Paul B. Fisher of the VCU Department of Human and Molecular Genetics said.

The enzyme studied, called human polynucleotide phosphorylase, was shown to cause cancerous cells to lose their growth potential and acquire properties of more normal cells, the VCU release said.

The enzyme is also a factor in cellular senescence, when a cell cannot divide anymore and dies, the release said.

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