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A*STAR scientists make headway for cancer treatment and cancer prevention with landmark discovery
Date:9/8/2011

Scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have made a landmark discovery in the battle against the rapid spread of aggressive cancers associated with PRL-3 oncoprotein . Contrary to the current accepted theory that antibodies can only bind to cancer proteins found on the cancer cell surface, the IMCB team led by Dr Zeng Qi is the first to discover that antibodies can in fact directly target intracellular oncoproteins like PRL-3 that reside within the cancer cells to suppress cancer growth successfully. This breakthrough finding will pave the way for more targeted solutions for cancer treatment and also offers hope for cancer prevention.

The leading cause of death by cancer is cancer metastasis the rapid and often fatal spread of cancer cells from the primary tumour to other parts of the body. PRL-3, which stands for "Phosphatase of Regenerating Liver 3", is a key protein linked to cancer metastasis. PRL-3 is commonly overproduced in many types of aggressive lung, liver, kidney, bone and breast cancer. For example, colorectal cancer and breast cancer, the top five most deadly cancers in the world and also the number one most common cancers in both male and female population respectively in Singapore , are frequently associated with elevated levels of PRL-3 phosphatase. PRL-3 is therefore an ideal target for cancer diagnostics and treatment.

Traditionally, oncoproteins like PRL-3 phosphatase which reside within the cancer cells were thought to be inaccessible by antibodies because it is widely accepted that antibodies are too big to cross the cell membrane. This study suggests that cancers could be effectively treated through the direct introduction of antibodies to target the PRL-3 oncoprotein inside the cancer cell. Likewise, vaccination with PRL-3 antigen to prevent cancer can be administered to induce the body's immune system to produce PRL-3 antibodies that will directly target the PRL-3 oncoprotein within
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Contact: Sarah Chang KC
chang_kai_chen@a-star.edu.sg
656-826-6442
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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