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Blood protein ‘may hold key to preventing tumour growth’

Researchers have identified a protein that can help in shutting down blood vessel growth,which could inhibit tumour growth in cancer patients.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
April 3, 2009 12:44:37 pm

Researchers have identified a protein that can help in shutting down blood vessel growth,a major discovery which they claim could pave the way for a new drug that may inhibit tumour growth in cancer patients.

A team at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has found that a protein called ferritin binds to and cripples the ability of another blood protein,called HKa,to shut down blood vessel growth.

In fact,the researchers found that the binding of the two proteins actually assists in new blood vessel formation by removing HKa’s influence and therefore promotes tumour growth.

The finding led them to the hypothesis that if they could somehow prevent the binding of ferritin and HKa,it will allow HKa to prevent the growth of new blood vessel,in turn,blocking the growth of tumours.

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The discovery also has possible implications for wound care. In order to heal,wounds need blood vessel growth. It is therefore possible that by increasing the binding of ferritin to HKa,one could increase the rate at which a serious wound heals,according to the researchers.

Lead researcher Suzy V Torti said: “It’s been known for a long time that levels of ferritin are increased in people with tumours,but it’s never been understood.

“Ferritin appears to play an important role in blood vessel formation. Further,the interaction between ferritin and HKa may represent a new area of interest for possible drug development.”

For the study,the researchers injected rodents with prostate cancer cells to determine how ferritin and HKa affect the formation of new blood vessels.

The mice injected with the cancer cells grew tumours.

But,when the researchers mixed HKa with the tumour cells,the HKa inhibited blood vessel formation. When they added ferritin to the mixture of HKa and cancer cells,the ferritin restored blood vessel formation,allowing the tumours to grow again.

“Blood vessels can either be helpful,for example in wound healing,or they can be harmful,for example by favouring tumour growth. Our new finding is that the interaction between ferritin and HKa can influence blood vessel formation.

“This finding could serve as the basis for strategies to either inhibit or stimulate blood vessels. This opens up a new realm of potential ways to treat tumours or conditions that depend on new blood vessel formation,” Torti said.

The findings are published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America’.

📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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