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Scientists develop 'designer protein,' opening new door in cancer research
Date:8/3/2010

ate at a specific subcellular compartment such as the nucleus, which houses a cell's DNA, or the mitochondria, the "powerhouse" of a cell, without harming normal neighboring tissue.

Recently, the researchers were able to do just that, creating a designer protein that not only targets a specific cell type, but then invades that cell and is drawn directly to a chosen compartment.

The researchers hope their continued investigation will soon lead to a way to attach a drug to the designer protein and deliver it directly to the cell's nucleus.

"It's possible that we could design the protein in such a way that it recognizes GBM cells and then delivers a drug or some other therapy into those cells in a way that will put those active agents inside a specific subcellular compartment like the nucleus, destroying only that specific cell," Debinski said. "Some radiation, if applied to the body, will do nothing to the cancer cells because it can't penetrate far enough into the body to reach its specific site of action in the cells. However, if we deliver that same radiation specifically to the nuclei of GBM cells, it can destroy the DNA of the cancer cell, leaving the cell unable to live any longer. It dies and the neighboring healthy cells go untouched. In this way, we think we may be able to provide a therapy that is both effective and at the same time less toxic."

Debinski's study is the first to document in a direct way both a single-chain protein that can recognize GMB cancer cells and its journey from attaching to the cells' surface to reaching the cells' nuclei.

"GMB is one of the most vicious of human malignancies," Debinski said. "Very little research has been done so far along this path, so this approach is very new and our study opens the door for more investigation."

Debinski noted that the use of a designer protein to deliver therapies to specific action sites will have to go through extensive safety and anima
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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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