Molecular ‘pied piper’ could be key to treating cancers

April 29th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 29 (IANS) A molecular ‘pied piper’ within blood cells, known as ‘Liar’, smuggles other molecules into the cell nucleus, triggering their development and division. The discovery could be the key to treating a host of cancers and prostate problems.
The important finding was made by two research groups at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR).

The two groups led by professors Evan Ingley and Peter Klinken also identified the function of a known cellular enzyme, Lyn, as a switch that ‘turns on’ blood cell development.

Ingley said the findings were a leap forward in the understanding of how blood cells develop and divide, which could offer them a key to turning off cancerous cell growth.

“‘Liar’ is like a key, which opens a pathway into the nucleus of a blood cell for a number of other molecules, allowing them to flow in - and these molecules are what signal the cell to develop and divide,” said Ingley.

“From here, if we could control ‘Liar,’ the hope is that we could use it to switch off the growth of abnormal, or cancerous, cells,” he added.

“Because Liar is present in every blood cell, this knowledge could help treat a huge range of conditions and diseases, but where it has most potential is in cancers of the prostate, breast, colon and blood where activity of the enzyme Lyn is heightened.”

“We could see Lyn had a big influence on blood cell development, so to understand how it works, we looked at what it interacts with and the effects it has,” Ingley said.

“What we then saw was Lyn interacting with Liar, and noticed it also interacted with other molecules that signal the cell to behave a certain way, said a WAIMR release.

“Now we have identified Liar and Lyn and we know what they do, we’ll be looking at them more closely to find out how they may have the potential to help treat cancers.”

The findings were published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

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