Could this protein help stop cancer from spreading?

Could this latest discovery by scientists help stop cancer from spreading?

In a new exciting development when it comes to cancer treatment, it seems scientists have discovered a protein that can help prevent the spread of the deadly disease. 

Woman with her mother with cancer spending time together iStock
Woman with her mother with cancer spending time together/ iStock

Cancer continues to kill millions of people all over the world. 

In 2022, there were an estimated 20-million new cancer cases and 9.7-million deaths, reports the World Health Organization

Cancer is dangerous, especially if it spreads to vital organs. 

Scientists have now reportedly discovered a protein that may help stop the spread of cancer. 

A report by Stars Insider states that a team of scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have discovered a protein that is part of healthy cell activity but turns rogue when cancer cells develop.

Another report by Medical News Today states: "Researchers found a way to change the physical properties of a specific protein that causes 75% of all human cancer cases."

The report says scientists focused on a protein called MYC which helps cancer tumours grow. 

READ: Four SA celebrities who lost their battle with cancer in 2023

Senior study author Dr Min Xue, associate professor of pharmacological sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Medical News Today: "From a chemistry point of view, MYC is just really fascinating because it lacks a stable structure. 

“It is a glob of randomness, but somehow it carries out critical biological functions in a well-regulated manner. This intricate play between order and disorder is what attracts me the most. Plus, it is a very promising drug target, that’s a bonus."

The senior study author went on to explain how the protein can help prevent the spread of cancer. 

“We designed a ‘bicyclic peptide,’ which has a 3D binding surface and can be considered as a miniature version of a protein,” Dr Xue told Medical News Today. 

“It can bind to MYC and change MYC’s physical properties, preventing it from accessing the information in the DNA.

“Because MYC is essential in fueling a wide collection of cancers, an effective MYC inhibitor may help us treat those cancers.

“An added bonus is that these cancer cells are more addicted to the high level of MYC activities, way above the normal cells, and this property can help create cancer therapeutics with fewer side effects." 

Dr Wael Harb, a board certified hematologist and medical oncologist at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast and Saddleback Medical Centers in Orange County, told the publication that this is an exciting development in the pursuit of finding treatment for cancer. 

“We would really (look) forward to (seeing) this introduced to human trials where we can start testing this in patients with aggressive cancer and get a better understanding of the safety and efficacy. And then after we have proven this in advanced tumors, we will start looking at other tumors in earlier stages of cancer,” Harb told the publication. 

READ: Four effective ways to reduce the risk of suffering from cancer

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Image courtesy of iStock/ @Jacob Wackerhausen

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