Catching Tumor in A Spider's Web

News ID: 1238113 Service: Science
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Researchers revealed a new designer molecule that inhibits a well-validated cancer driver through the mechanism of amyloid formation.

The work by the Belgian Switch Laboratory (VIB/KU Leuven) demonstrates that amyloid structures can be used to rationally develop a novel class of biotechnological molecules that are able to fight a wide array of diseases.

Proteins in boiled eggs, beer foam and spider silk all share a similar structural element: amyloid. These structures are active in humans as well, playing a role in processes such as melanin production and cellular hormone storage. However, amyloids are also associated with diseases like cataracts, Alzheimer's and blood clotting disorders.

The Switch Laboratory, led by professors Frederic Rousseau and Joost Schymkowitz, has now invented a design principle that could be used to destroy the function of virtually any protein based on the properties of amyloids.

The first validated result of this new technology is called vascin, a designer amyloid that targets a well-known cancer target. In short, vascin penetrates a cell, and induces the formation of protein aggregates of its target protein, VEGFR2. These 'clumps' are the result of VEGFR2 protein that started sticking together, making it nonfunctional. Because VEGFR2 is crucial to the survival of certain cancer types, its inactivation kills the cancer cells and stops the tumor's growth.

The research is published in the journal Science.

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