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Molecular discovery puts cancer treatment in a new perspective
Date:7/11/2013

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the National Institutes of Health have obtained ground-breaking new knowledge about proteases - important enzymes which, among other things, play a role in the development of cancer cells. The findings may be significant for the development of cancer drugs, and have just been published in Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Cancer cells can exploit an over-production of proteases to force their way into the body.

In a joint effort with the National Institutes of Health, a group of researchers from the University of Copenhagen have taken a step closer to being able to design a more effective anticancer treatment by mapping a previously unknown molecular mechanism.

The group has been working with proteases, important enzymes which are responsible for maintaining different types of tissues in the body while also being involved in many -diseases, including cancer. Cancer cells can exploit an over-production of proteases to force their way into the body so they can quickly grow and create a space for themselves in which to spread.

"So far, we have been unable to treat cancer patients with drugs which can effectively stop cancer cells from spreading, but having now discovered that an important function of proteases has been overlooked, we have the possibility of designing new drugs. So far, cancer drugs have primarily been shaped to stop the proteases from cleaving and thereby activating processes, but this is probably insufficient. Surprisingly, our studies show that proteases perform another function in addition to cleaving; they are also able to bind to one another, besides from cleaving, and kick-starting various cellular processes," says Stine Friis, a postdoc at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen. She has spearheaded the new research in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

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Contact: Stine Friis
sfriis@sund.ku.dk
240-645-5207
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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