Location: Northern Ireland
Location: East Midlands
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Speciality: Biochemistry Biomedical Scientist
Being diagnosed with cancer signals a long road to recovery and getting the best treatment possible is imperative for patients, but a resistance to chemotherapy can prove fatal.
Some patients can be prone to resist chemotherapy as their body rejects many of the methods the treatment takes to help eradicate cancerous cells within the patient. However, a team of scientists at the Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital Cancer Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, has developed an anti-cancer peptide which is designed to help reduce a person's resistance to chemotherapy and radiation that can occur in cases of blood cancers when they recur after initial treatment.
The compound, which is still in its prototype stage, is known as a "stapled BIM BH3 peptide" and has been specifically engineered to target the cancer's resistant shields by aiming at a group of proteins that control cell death. The compound can combat common cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia as the scientists found that during tests on mice the stapled BIM BH3 cut down the chance for cancer to grow and thus spreading to other parts of the body.
When cells become weak, damaged or no longer needed the body activates "executioner proteins", from the BCL-2 family who contain both pro-death and pro-survival attributes, the former aim to break down cells and ultimately force them to commit suicide. However, when the scientists introduced the BIM BH3 compound it manages to intercept the proteins preventing them from destroying the protective nature of the cancerous cells.
In the case of a relapse the scientists believe that they have gained knowledge of how to protect themselves from chemotherapy.
Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Centre and part of the team's study said: "The diversity of BCL-2 family survival proteins blunts the anti-tumour activity of essentially all cancer treatments to some degree,"
"By using Nature's solution to broad targeting of the BCL-2 pathway with a stapled BIM BH3 peptide, our goal is to eliminate cancer's protective force field and enable the arsenal of cancer treatments to do their job."
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written by Angela Newbury
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