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Blocking an oncogene in liver cancer could be potential therapy option
Date:10/12/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio Scientists have found that a synthetic molecule they designed can block activation of a gene in liver cancer cells, halting a process that allows some of those cancer cells to survive chemotherapy.

Without the interference of this gene's function, certain liver cancer cells appear to be protected from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Blocking the oncogene, called STAT3, prevents a protein from protecting the cells, the research suggests. As a result, more liver cancer cells succumb to treatment.

Researchers hope an anti-cancer drug based on the molecule's design eventually will be developed for use in patients, after the required animal and clinical testing is completed.

The scientists have seen similar results in studies using this experimental molecule, called LLL12, to block STAT3 as a way to induce cell death in breast and pancreatic cancer cells.

"For patients, it would be easy to use an intravenous drug based on this small molecule, which is relatively cheap and easy to manufacture," said Jiayuh Lin, senior author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

"We also have seen signs that blocking STAT3 could block other downstream targets, and could affect other STAT3-regulated genes that can turn normal cells into cancer cells. We believe this molecule has a lot of potential for cancer therapy."

Lin led the team of scientists who designed LLL12 using powerful computers and a computational method called structure-based design. The group reported on its creation earlier this year.

This new study is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The protein in this process is called interleukin-6, or IL-6. It is a cytokine, a chemical messenger that causes inflammation, and can have both beneficial and damaging effects in the body. Previous research by other scientists has shown that high
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Contact: Jiayuh Lin
lin.674@osu.edu
614-722-5086
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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