Protein ‘bullet’ guns down cancer cellsNovember 2nd, 2010 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS
London, Nov 2 (IANS) A protein ‘bullet’ fired by immune system cells, known as perforin, can gun down cancer cells, researchers say.
Scientists used a powerful electron microscope to see how perforin blasts open cancerous cell membranes to allow toxic enzymes to enter and destroy them.
Images from the microscope showed a ring of perforin molecules clustering together to bore a hole in the cell membrane, according to the journal Nature.
Prof Helen Saibil, from Birkbeck College, University of London, who led the Anglo-Australian team, said: “Perforin is a powerful bullet in the arsenal of our immune system - without it, we could not deal with the thousands of rogue cells that turn up in our bodies through our lives.”
Perforin is released by two key weapons in the immune system arsenal, CD8 ‘killer’ T-cells and ‘natural killer’ (NK) cells, reports the Daily Mail.
Evidence from studies suggests that defective perforin leads to the development of cancers, particularly leukaemia.
The first person to discover that the human immune system could punch holes in target cells was Nobel Prize-winning Belgian microbiologist Jules Bordet, more than 110 years ago.
Prof Saibil said: “From our previous work, we already knew that bacterial toxins, such as the one involved in pneumonia, dramatically change shape to punch holes in membranes.
“We were fascinated by perforin and wanted to know its structure and how that might change in order for it to act as a hole-punching machine.”
Co-author Prof James Whisstock, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said: “Now we know how it works, we can start to fine tune it to fight cancer, malaria and diabetes.”
- How protein 'assassin' kills rogue cells in our bodies - Nov 01, 2010
- Super microscope helps pinpoint our immunity 'switch' - Jun 06, 2011
- Scientists crack riddle of clot-busting enzyme - Mar 12, 2012
- New research may expand drug arsenal used to fight HIV - Mar 09, 2010
- How HIV thwarts the body's natural defense - Nov 20, 2010
- Immune system can abort stem cell regeneration - Nov 21, 2011
- New fusion molecule 'empowers immune system to fight cancer' - Apr 13, 2011
- Killer white blood cells could make organ rejection history - Aug 22, 2010
- Prebiotic helps lower colon cancer risk: study - May 04, 2012
- Nobel medicine laureate Steinman dead: Rockefeller University - Oct 03, 2011
- Three share Nobel in Medicine - Oct 03, 2011
- Fresh hope for HIV patients - Mar 09, 2010
- Deceased Steinmen to remain Nobel Laureate: Nobel foundation - Oct 04, 2011
- Catching flu early can protect you from asthma later - Dec 15, 2010
- Key cell signals inhibit babies' ability to fight infection - Aug 08, 2012
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,