Boost for new cancer therapies
New Cancer Treatment
Scientists have revealed the critical role a key enzyme plays in helping cells divide in what could prove an important breakthrough for new cancer therapies.
Cells divide to form two identical cells as part of the body's natural development and replenishment processes but when cells divide in an abnormal manner, tumours can develop.
Research has shown that an enzyme called 'Polo kinase' is involved in normal cell division but that it also goes into overdrive in cancer helping cells to multiply in an uncontrolled way.
Clinical trials on drugs that block the actions of Polo kinase started in the United States last year but the complete picture of how the enzyme assisted the cell-division process has not been clear until now.
Writing in the highly respected science journal, Nature, a team of researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne have described a new way in which the enzyme works.
"Enzymes are proteins that speed up or 'catalyse' the body's chemical reactions such as those required for normal cell division," explained Professor Andrew Sharrocks, lead researcher in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences.
"As its name suggests, the enzyme we have studied is from a group known as kinase enzymes which use a particular chemical