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Scientists discover novel chemical that controls cell behavior
Date:3/13/2013

March 12, 2013 Albuquerque, NM (UNM Cancer Center) It's the spread of the original cancer tumor that kills most people. That's why cancer researchers vigorously search for drugs that can prevent metastases, the spread of cancer. The research team co-led by Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD, and Larry Sklar, PhD, at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center has found a chemical compound that appears to control cell migration and adhesion, two important characteristics of metastatic cancer cells. The team recently published a paper describing how the first-in-class compound acts on various cells.

Dr. Wandinger-Ness, a UNM Professor of Pathology and Director of the Fluorescence Microscopy and Cell Imaging Shared Resource, studies proteins called GTPases. GTPases act like chemical switches to control how cells behave: how much a cell grows, what shape it assumes, when it enters the next growth stage, and how tightly it sticks to its surroundings, among several hundred other things. Dr. Wandinger-Ness was interested in a particular GTPase called Cdc42; it controls cell migration and cell adhesion. "It's an important target in many diseases," says Dr. Wandinger-Ness. "Cancer is just one. But there were no compounds that target this GTPase." So she collaborated with Dr. Sklar and Tudor Oprea, MD, PhD, to find a compound that did. And they were successful.

Dr. Sklar is a UNM Professor of Pathology and co-Leader of the Cancer Biology and Biotechnology Research Group at the UNM Cancer Center. He created and now oversees the UNM Center for Molecular Discovery. Dr. Oprea is a UNM Professor of Medicine and co-Director of the Flow Cytometry & High Throughput Screening Shared Resource at the UNM Cancer Center. He analyzed Cdc42 using three-dimensional molecular rendering software. The team used Dr. Oprea's analysis of Cdc42 to visualize how a compound might interact with the Cdc42 GTPase to stifle its activity. Then they searched for such a compound in the UNM
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Contact: Michele Sequeira
MSequeira@salud.unm.edu
505-925-0486
University of New Mexico Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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