Have scientists found a way to activate a cancer cell’s emergency brake?
Researchers from Michigan and Ohio may have pinpointed it. Writing in the journal Cell, they say they have found a binding site on individual cancer cells. This is where an anticancer drug might be able to jumpstart a tumor cell’s broken brake system, much like pulling the emergency brake on a car racing downhill.
The cells already have the brake system built into them. It is meant to control their growth. But in cancerous cells, the system needs repair. The proteins that make up the brake system have somehow become destabilized and are no longer doing their job.
The researchers say fixing the problem requires attaching an anticancer medication to the right spot on the out-of-control cell. In an action movie, it would be like getting the hero onto the runaway car that’s rigged with a bomb. Just like the hero would need to latch onto the car to fix the problem, a drug molecule needs the right spot to latch onto the cell and stop it. The scientists say they have found that critical spot.
Once an anticancer drug is attached to cell, it can get to work on the defunct proteins. The right medication would straighten those proteins out and get the cell’s natural brake system to start working correctly. Then, with working brake systems in its cells, the scientists believe the tumor should start to shrink.
Bonus: Scientists think they know what molecules can correct the proteins and fix the brake system. And now they know where to target medication to do the job.
Stay tuned for the end of tale. The next part seems like it’s going to be thrilling!