Doctoral Student Creates New Molecule That Inhibits Cancer
As part of her dissertation, Cornelia Rosschger from Salzburg has designed a molecule to be used in the fight against cancer. The molecule causes cancer cells to not divide so quickly. The helical molecule is a representation of a small element of the Id proteins, but is not an exact copy. It has the ability to recognize and capture Id proteins, thus weakening their biological function in the cancer cell.
"The Id proteins play an important role in prenatal development in humans and animals because they stimulate cell growth," explains university professor Chiara Cabrele, under whom Roschger conducted research. After birth, these proteins are no longer needed and become dormant. "In cancer cells, however, the Id proteins are turned on again. They resume their function in the cancer cell and accelerate their growth. This should be prevented with our new therapeutic approach,” continues Cabrele.
The special feature of these Id proteins is that they only occur in cancer cells. This makes the proteins highly interesting for cancer research: "If you target the proteins, they are only affected in the cancer cell, where they are active," explains Cabrele.
Cornelia Roschger has studied the effect of the molecule on breast and bladder cancer cells. "Because the Id proteins are a feature of many cancers, we believe that our molecule could have broad applications in cancer therapy," Cabrele points out. Now it is important to make the molecule even more effective and to check whether it stays in the bloodstream long enough, because: "In therapeutic application, such drugs are administered intravenously and distributed through the blood," said Cabrele. The first test using the molecule in combination with anticancer drugs was promising.
New forms of therapy against cancer
As of now, chemotherapy and radiation therapies are considered to be classic treatments for cancer. These therapies aim to kill fast-growing cancer cells, but have the side effect that healthy cells also suffer from these therapies. For this reason, cancer research is concerned with the development of new, targeted therapies. These forms of therapy are designed exclusively to counteract altered molecular features that exist only in cancerous cells. As a result, it is desired that the targeted therapies bring far fewer side effects. Roschger's molecule could potentially be used in these new therapies.