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Home Industry News Scientists study new ‘cancer protein’

Scientists study new ‘cancer protein’

21st March 2007

A new method for treating cancer patients could be developed as a result of research undertaken by a team at the University of British Columbia.

Stem cell and cancer scientists worked together studying a protein called podocalyxin, which has previously been shown to be an indicator of metastatic breast cancer, which is cancer that has spread to or from another part of the body.

After scrutinising the protein, the team found it also acted as an agent in the cancer itself and was more than simply a predictor for the onset of the disease.

Calvin Roskelley, an associate professor of cellular and physiological science and a specialist in breast cancer, said the findings were significant.

“We believe we’ve found a new important culprit in metastatic breast cancer, which opens up an entirely new avenue of cancer research,” he said.

“The culprit is hiding in plain sight on the surface of tumour cells, so we are now developing ‘smart’ molecules to block its function. The ultimate goal is to generate new targeted, non-toxic treatments – very different from the standard ‘slash and burn’ chemotherapy.”

First published in the online Public Library of Science, the findings are expected to form the basis for further studies of podocalyxin.

Experts says the protein appears to play a role in shaping the cancer cells, affecting how they grow and also how they metastasize – or how they spread to different parts of the body.

Ultimately scientists say they would look to block the protein, inhibiting its ability to take hold.

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