Protein that protects cancer cells from chemo, radiation therapy found

March 25th, 2011 - 5:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 25 (ANI): Researchers have identified a protein that enables the activation of a DNA-repair enzyme that protects cancer cells from catastrophic damage caused by chemo and radiation therapy.

This protein, called c-MYC oncoprotein, can initiate and promote almost all human cancers and discovering the role it plays in cancer treatment resistance may lead to advances that save lives.

Although scientists have known that cancer cells can acquire resistance to DNA-damaging therapeutic agents, the genetic mechanisms through which this occurs have remained unclear until now.

Using the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin (which is commonly used as a first-line therapy for various cancers) to design a set of experiments, the research team found that the c-MYC oncoprotein increases cisplatin resistance by decreasing production of a c-MYC inhibitor called BIN1. BIN1 suppressed an enzyme essential for DNA repair, and the sensitivity of cancer cells to cisplatin depended upon BIN1 abundance. Overproducing the c-MYC oncoprotein repressed BIN1, blocking its life-saving action.

“Our study provides a potent and novel mechanism through which cancer acquires resistance to DNA damage,” said Daitoku Sakamuro, assistant Professor of Pathology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, who led the research.

“Inhibition of oncogenic c-MYC may provide an attractive strategy for cancer therapy in combination with DNA-damaging agents.”

The work has been published in the issue of Science Signaling. (ANI)

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