"These investigators have done a nice job of combining findings of a basic nature as well as the preliminary studies needed to move to a preclinical evaluation. It's unusual for one single paper to make such a large step forward," he said.
Now one of the next steps, Melner said, is for researchers to determine what types of cancer and what stages of the disease this deadly Bcl-2 converter would combat.
Linda Wolff, a leukemia researcher at the National Institutes of Health's Center for Cancer Research in Bethesda, Md., said the researchers' discovery is "rare" in the world of cancer research. She added that it's important for two reasons.
"First, it may lead to a therapy that could potentially be used against many types of cancer," she said. "The reason for that is because it targets Bcl-2, and Bcl-2 is expressed in many types of cancers. So it could be useful in breast cancer and other carcinomas and leukemia, for example.
"The second reason it's important is that although the peptide they studied causes cancer cells to die, its effect on normal cells seems to be quite minimal," Wolff said. "A big problem in cancer research has been getting therapies that don't kill normal cells."
Dr. David Hockenbery, a member of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., said that this new way of altering a protein so it injures a cell rather than merely disables it "is very unusual." He added that this finding would spur researchers to develop drugs or stable peptides that act on Bcl-2 at the Nur77 binding site.
"Quite conceivably, individual cancers may respond better to one type of Bcl-2 inhibitor than another," he said. "In the future, the availability of several targeting approaches against Bcl-2 should be useful in personalized cancer therapies."
|Contact: Siva Kolluri|
Oregon State University