How Proteins in the Cells Contribute to Tumour Growth

The origin of Cancer cells in the body is unknown. But there are increasing evidences of how Cancer cells manage to survive and multiply uncontrollable inside the body. Knowledge of these survival mechanisms adopted by the cancer cells provides lead to developing anti-cancer drugs which primarily try to inhibit these mechanisms. It is an on-going process and the focus is to understand the origin and growth of this disease in a fundamental way. Researchers at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered how Cancer cells survive inside the body by utilising the proteins present in the healthy cells. The results of the finding are published in the scientific journal Cancer Cell. This article tries to gain further insight in to the findings.

Knowledge Gained From Research:

  • The researchers wanted to know how defects in protein production mechanism in cells help Cancer growth.
  • They found that there exists a protein called the “mammalian target of rapamycin” or mTOR in the cells.
  • This protein is responsible for the survival and growth of cells.
  • In a process technically called the translational control, the mTOR protein accesses the nutritional and energy needs of the cell and helps it in the production of the essential chemicals to meet these requirements.
  • The signals used by the mTOR protein to communicate with the cell is utilized by the Cancer cells midway for their own growth.
  • The study found that when cells lose the control of the production of this protein, it becomes hyper activated.
  • As a result, cells are provided with excess amounts of this protein which make them immortal and multiply in large number.
  • Cancer cells utilize this chaos effectively for their growth resulting in the formation of tumours.
  • The hyper-activated levels of mTOR protein can turn the healthy genes in charge of protein production become cancerous.
  • Genes are the bundle of chemical instructions followed by the cells to perform their functions effectively.
  • To counter this undesirable state of cancer growth a drug called PP242 was discovered by the researchers at the UCSF.
  • When the drug was tested in the laboratory it was found that the drug brought down the levels of mTOR protein to normalcy, reducing the rate of cancer cell growth.
  • The drug could successfully also stop the process of conversion of healthy mortal cells into cancerous immortal cells.

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