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Protein handlers should be effective treatment target for cancer and Alzheimer's
Date:8/6/2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. Cancer and Alzheimer's have excess protein in common and scientists say learning more about how proteins are made and eliminated will lead to better treatment for both.

Medical College of Georgia researchers Drs. Nahid F. Mivechi and Dimitrios Moskofidis have received two National Cancer Institute grants totaling nearly $3 million and a $982,800, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the last 12 months to support studies of proteins and the molecular chaperones that manage them from cradle to grave.

Understanding the exact role molecular chaperones play in cancer and Alzheimer's should lead to better ways to intervene in both, says Dr. Mivechi, director of the MCG Center for Molecular Chaperone Biology/Radiobiology and Cancer Virology.

Everyone needs molecular chaperones which prompt genes to make proteins, move proteins around the body, fold them up into the proper shape to function properly and even haul them off when they no longer work. Cancer needs them even more for the endless cell replication required for tumor growth, Dr. Mivechi says. Essentially the opposite happens in Alzheimer's in which excess protein is a major component of the destructive brain plaque that is the disease's hallmark. Dr. Mivechi believes molecular chaperones, which typically slow in activity with age, are failing at their job so that proteins aggregate in the brain, contributing to Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases in which brain cell communication is interrupted.

The MCG center has evidence that disabling molecular chaperones or the heat shock factors that control some of them, disables tumor formation in the liver and probably the breast. Researchers are also now examining brain tumors as well as pancreatic and prostate cancer.

They also want to know whether ramping up the activity of molecular chaperone can essentially make them act young again and halt development of Alzh
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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