New target that stops metastasis could lead to safer cancer therapies

Zhi-Ren Liu--courtesy of GSU

A new target that disrupts a vital interaction between two types of cells could prevent the spread of cancer and pave the way for new cancer therapies, according to new research by scientists at Georgia State University.

Zhi-Ren Liu and Jenny Yang, professors at GSU, studied the interaction of two molecules--p68 RNA helicase and calcium-calmodulin--and their role in cell migration.

A fundamental process that involves the translation of cells from one location to another, cell migration can cause metastasis and other diseases when errors occur. Cancer at its originating site is not typically lethal--the killer is multi-organ metastasis, one of the hallmarks of a malignant tumor as opposed to a benign one.

Liu and Yang found that the interaction between p68 and calcium-calmodulin, which is essential for cell migration, inhibited metastasis in two mice studies. Yang told FierceBiotechResearch that they examined the interaction of the two cells in a derivative of colon cancer in one model and breast cancer cells in another model. In both cases, disrupting cell migration successfully stopped the spread of cancer cells and left mice with no adverse side effects. The findings were published recently in Nature Communications.

Jenny Yang--courtesy of GSU

"This could be an effective strategy at stopping metastasis and not cause much harm to regular processes in the body," Liu told FierceBiotechResearch.

Yang said there is more work to be done but is optimistic about the potential of the new target. "This is not a harsh treatment. This could be a lot safer of a way to treat cancer," she said.

Liu and Yang's teams have used the research to create two peptides, which, if modified, could be used to make a compound that mimics the peptides. Liu said he's interested in licensing the peptides to a pharma company for further development.

- here's the journal abstract
- read the press release

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