Curing cancer is one of these tasks humanity has given to science with the biggest hope. And new scientific discoveries, innovative treatments and researches are going towards this ultimate goal.
Now a team of researchers that included scientists from the University of Adelaide have conducted a study and found potential inhibitors of specific cell membrane proteins. These proteins are very important in the development of cancer, because they are involved in the spread of cancer to other parts of the body (metastasis). They also participate in the progression of autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis.
Needless to say, inhibiting these proteins would be a huge step forward in the cancer research. The molecules that scientists identified strongly inhibit the action of the two ‘chemokine receptors’ CXCR4 and ACKR3 which work together to regulate cell migration, important in both cancer metastasis and autoimmune disease.
This research will open a path for the development of new therapeutic treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases and it was possible only because of collaboration between University of California, San Diego, and the Chemokine Biology Laboratory in the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Molecular Pathology.
The research is already showing promise. One of the new molecules (the one that bounds most strongly to the CXCR4 receptor) already inhibited multiple sclerosis in a laboratory study.
Professor Shaun McColl, one of the authors of the study, explained: “scientists around the world are looking for ways of blocking the CXCR4 and ACKR3 receptors as a means of preventing or at least slowing down the cell migration that underlies the progression of these diseases. We hope these new molecules will be the basis for the design of new drugs that will interfere with cancer metastasis and inhibit multiple sclerosis.”
In total scientists identified 12 molecules of modified human protein that act against said receptors. But four of them act especially aggressively against them. Scientists used something called ‘phage display’. It is a state-of-the-art method which allowed them to generate thousands of modified molecules of these natural human proteins. Then these molecules were tested to find out their ability to bind to the target receptors. These experiments and tests produced inhibitors specific to a particular protein.
This is a good example of what path cancer research is taking. Now scientists are focusing on specific kinds of cancer in order to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy. Researchers are investigating diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis to a molecular level to find a way to inhibit or at least control them. Scientists already planned how this research will be developed further.
Next step is going to be working out exactly where these molecules are binding to the receptors. Scientists also want to better the understanding how these molecules are disrupting function of the receptors. This will allow them to modify these molecules even further in order to reach even greater specificity.
We will have to wait and see how this and other cancer researches develop. But even now it is clear that with rapidly improving therapies and effective treatments science is approaching its goal to cure cancer one day. Every research like this makes treatment easier and quality of life of the patients better, which is a step to the right direction.