Navigation Links
Researchers identify target for cancer drugs

For nearly a decade, scientists have been trying to fully understand a particular communication pathway inside of cells that contributes to many malignant brain and prostate cancers. While scientists have identified elements of this pathway, other key components have remained a mystery. Researchers at Whitehead Institute now have discovered a missing puzzle piece, a finding that may present drug makers with a significant new cancer target.

"We believe that we have identified a component that researchers have been looking for since 1996," says Whitehead Associate Member David Sabatini, who is also an Assistant Professor of Biology at MIT.

At the heart of this new research is a protein called Akt, an important player in the regulation of cell division and survival. Abnormally high activation of Akt has long been implicated in a variety of cancers. If Akt travels to the cell membrane, it is switched on and promotes cell division, often contributing to tumor growth as a result. However, as long as it stays within the cell cytoplasm, it remains relatively inactive. That's because the tumor-suppressor protein PTEN keeps Akt in check by destroying lipids in the cell membrane that normally draw Akt to the surface. In a sense, PTEN keeps a leash on Akt and thus suppresses cell division.

But when PTEN is mutated and unable to function, Akt breaks free. It makes its way to the cell membrane where other proteins activate it, thereby enabling Akt to contribute to tumor growth. "When a cell loses PTEN through, say, a mutation, Akt goes gangbusters," says Sabatini.

The exact means by which Akt switches on when it reaches the cell membrane has only been partially understood. As a result, researchers have lacked a clear idea about how to prevent the process. However, in the February 18 issue of the journal Science, researchers from the Sabatini lab report on discovering an important missing piece of the activation process.

This missing componen t, a molecule called mTOR, is a protein that influences a cell's ability to expand in size. mTOR has been widely studied as the target for the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin (in fact, mTOR is an acronym for "mammalian target of rapamycin"). In July of 2004, Dos Sarbassov, a scientist in Sabatini's lab, discovered a new protein that mTOR interacts with called rictor, but he wasn't yet sure of what these two proteins do together. In this latest paper, Sarbassov reports that when mTOR and rictor bind and form a complex, they help activate Akt by adding a phosphate group to a sequence of its amino acids (a process called "phosphorylation").

This process occurs not only in human cells but in other organisms such as the fruit fly. Finding this complex conserved in species as diverse as flies and humans supports the claim that the mTOR/rictor complex is indeed a missing piece of the puzzle.

According to Sarbassov, "If we find a molecule that can block the mTOR/rictor complex, then we may be able to prevent Akt from becoming active and contributing to tumor formation."


'"/>

Source:Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
3. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
4. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
5. Researchers discover molecule that causes secondary stroke
6. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
7. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
8. Researchers add new tool to tumor-treatment arsenal
9. UF Researchers Map Bacterial Proteins That Cause Tooth Loss
10. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain
11. Researchers develop rapid diagnostic tool for pathogen identification
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid ... setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to ... leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track ... and body mass index, and, when they opt in, ... convenient visit to a local retail location at no ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... PROVIDENCE, R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics ... leadership of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., ... addition, members of the original technical leadership team, including ... Vice President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice ... have returned to the company. Dr. Bready ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... 23, 2016 ... Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern     ... MESG ), ein führender Anbieter digitaler ... mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen Biometrietechnologie ... die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler Apps ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... After several promising treatments ... at the City of Knowledge in Panama, a 6 year-old Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy ... earlier this year following FDA approval of a second application for a single ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... delegation at BIO 2016 in San Francisco. Located at booth number 7301, representatives ... to answer questions and discuss the Thai biotechnology and life sciences sector. ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Scientists at the University of ... tried for mesothelioma may be hampering the research that could lead to one good ... here to read it now. , The team evaluated 98 mesothelioma patients ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... diabetes, and traumatic injuries, will be accelerated by research at Worcester Polytechnic Institute ... engines of wound healing and tissue regeneration. , The novel method, developed by ...
Breaking Biology Technology: