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Blood protein may hold key to stopping tumor growth in cancer patients
Date:3/31/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A recent discovery by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine could clear the way for a new drug that inhibits tumor growth in cancer patients and could potentially help in the healing of wounds.

The discovery stems from a study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, in which researchers looked at angiogenesis the body's formation of new blood vessels from existing blood vessels and how some blood proteins are involved in that process and affect blood vessel growth.

Researchers found that a protein called ferritin binds to and cripples the ability of another blood protein, called HKa, to shut down blood vessel growth. Because new blood vessels supply a steady stream of nutrients and oxygen that are essential for tumor growth, researchers found that the binding of the two proteins actually assists in new blood vessel formation by removing HKa's influence and therefore promotes tumor growth.

The finding led researchers to the hypothesis that if they can somehow prevent the binding of ferritin and HKa, it will allow HKa to prevent new blood vessel growth and therefore block the growth of tumors.

The finding also has possible implications for wound care. In order to heal, wounds need blood vessel growth. It is therefore possible that by increasing the binding of ferritin to HKa, one could increase the rate at which a serious wound heals.

"It's been known for a long time that levels of ferritin are increased in people with tumors, but it's never been understood why that happens," said Suzy V. Torti, Ph.D., the study's lead investigator, an associate professor of biochemistry and an expert in iron biology at the School of Medicine. "Ferritin appears to play an important role in blood vessel formation. Further, the interaction between ferritin and HKa may represent a new area of interest for possible drug
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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