Indian Science Congress: Cancer growth is encouraged by protein p53, says researcher

Researchers have developed a means of controlling cancer by eliminating the protein, called mutant P53

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: January 7, 2015 8:52:44 pm

In a near breakthrough in cancer research, University of Kansas Medical Center, USA, has developed a means of controlling cancer by eliminating the protein, called mutant P53, on which cancerous cells depend to grow inside a human body. The findings of the research in its final stages, is yet to be published in a medical journal.

“Cancer cells adapt themselves to new environment. We thought we can beat cancer by finding its weakness. And we found out that p53 is responsible for encouraging growth of cancer in an organ. For instance, in lungs it is responsible for 50 per cent cancerous mutation,” said Dr Tomoo Iwakuma at a session on ‘targeting translational and post translational modification in health and diseases , who works with department of cancer biology in the University of Kansas Cancer Center. The research will be published in medical journals after a period of over four months, Iwakuma told the Indian Express.

According to the paper presented by him on Tuesday, p53 is an oncogenic mutant which ‘allows cancer cells to survive’. Iwakuma said that it is the “most frequently mutat​ed” and once mutated, it becomes “drug resistant, stronger and advanced”.

During research, team at Kansas Cancer Center used drug named ‘KU-L’ for knocking out p53 from a specific organ. “The results have been encouraging and almost 80 per cent of cancerous growth could be prevented,” Iwakuma told the Indian Express, adding that mutant p53 is present in all types of cancers which means removing it could help in controlling cancer.

​ Tests on rats were also conducted which yielded successful results, the presentation at the session showed.​

The research team is currently experimenting the combined effects of using KU-L drugs along with chemotherapy to control cancer. However, Iwakuma admitted that p53 also has certain positive effects on the body which could suffer with its removal.

“We can also control mutant p53 before detection of cancer. That can, however, act as a check point only,” the Japanese researcher added.​

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