Why cancer cells just won't die (w/ Video)

Dec 09, 2009

When cells experience DNA damage, they'll try to repair it. But if that fails, the damaged cells are supposed to self-destruct, a process called apoptosis. A cancer researcher at Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario has identified a protein that regulates apoptosis, a new discovery which has implications for both the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Caroline Schild-Poulter's findings are now published online in the journal Molecular Cancer Research.

"The we've identified, RanBPM, is directly involved in activating apoptosis," explains Schild-Poulter who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "One of the hallmarks of is that the don't initiate apoptosis despite having defects in their genetic material. In other words the damaged cells do not commit suicide, and this develops into cancer. Failure to activate apoptosis also makes it difficult to cure cancer. You cannot kill these cells by causing to them using chemotherapy or radiation, because these cells resist dying."

While more research is needed to fully understand how this protein functions, Schild-Poulter believes RanBPM could be targeted to re-activate apoptosis, killing cancer cells. The protein may also be a marker used to predict whether a tumour will go on to become malignant.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Dr. Caroline Schild-Poulter of Robarts Research Institute has identified a protein that regulates apoptosis, the process by which damaged cells are supposed to self-destruct. She explains the implications of this for cancer cells. Credit: Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the University of Western Ontario

Source: University of Western Ontario

Explore further: Patients with advanced, incurable cancer denied palliative care

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Refusal of suicide order: Why tumor cells become resistant

Jun 23, 2008

Cells with irreparable DNA damage normally induce programmed cell death, or apoptosis. However, this mechanism often fails in tumor cells so that transformed cells are able to multiply and spread throughout the body. Scientists ...

Take new look at cellular suicide

Jul 06, 2006

Like a bodyguard turned traitor, a protein whose regular job is to help repair severed DNA molecules will, in some cases, join forces with another protein to do the opposite and chop the DNA to bits, according to new research ...

Researchers discover a protein that amplifies cell death

Jan 15, 2009

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified a small intracellular protein that helps cells commit suicide. The finding, reported as the "paper of the week" in the ...

Chemists using light-activated molecules to kill cancer cells

Aug 08, 2007

A key challenge facing doctors as they treat patients suffering from cancer or other diseases resulting from genetic mutations is that the drugs at their disposal often don’t discriminate between healthy cells and dangerous ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0