Active ingredient destroys Aurora proteins – cancer cells die
Cancer research has long known that certain proteins often trigger cancer. A German research team has now found a way to destroy these defective proteins with an active ingredient, so that the cancer cells were stopped from growing and ultimately died.
Certain proteins are fundamentally involved in the growth of cancer cells. A new active ingredient is believed to destroy these cancer-promoting proteins. (Image: Design Cells / stock.adobe.com)
Researchers from the universities of Würzburg and Frankfurt present a new type of active ingredient for the treatment of cancer. The substance aims to destroy the so-called aurora proteins, which are associated with the development of cancer. The research results were recently presented in the famous journal “Nature Chemical Biology”.
What are Aurora proteins?
“Cancer diseases are usually caused by proteins that produce tumors,” Dr. Elmar Wolf reports. The peculiarity of these proteins is that cancer cells can produce more of them than healthy cells. Aurora proteins (Aurora A kinase) belonging to this group accelerate the growth of tumors.
From inhibition to destruction
A current therapeutic approach therefore consists in inhibiting these defective proteins. “The proteins are still there, but they don’t work as well anymore,” says Dr. Loup. However, the use of such inhibitors has only been partially successful in the past. The experimental active ingredients available to date have only shown an effect against some of the proteins that cause tumors. Clinical use has often not led to the desired results.
In cancer research, therefore, it was very important to find an active ingredient that not only inhibits tumor proteins, but also makes them disappear completely. The research team has now succeeded in making this type of cancer treatment more effective not only by inhibiting the responsible proteins, but also by destroying them completely.
New active ingredient kills cancer cells
The class of active ingredients of these new substances is summarized under the scientific name “PROTAC”. “We have developed such a PROTAC for Aurora,” says Wolf. Laboratory tests have already shown that the active ingredient PROTAC completely breaks down the Aurora proteins in cancer cells, after which the cultured cancer cells are dead.
How do PROTAC drugs work?
“The tumor needs certain tumor-inducing proteins that can be imagined like pages from a book,” describes the head of research. The PROTAC substance will now tear off the “Aurora” pages and destroy them. The protein is eliminated due to the breakdown machinery that each cell has to break down the broken proteins. Without protein, cancer cells can no longer exist.
Which cancers can PROTAC help against?
“For example, Aurora-A-Kinase is present at much higher concentrations in breast cancer tumors than in healthy tissue and it probably also plays a role in prostate cancer”, adds Professor Stefan Knapp of the research team. Aurora proteins also stimulate the development of leukemia and many childhood tumors such as neuroblastoma.
So far no active ingredient against Aurora protein is available
“Blocking Aurora-A-kinase activity is not promising – none of the many clinically tested inhibitor candidates have yet received clinical approval,” Knapp continues. The new PROTAC variant is the first highly efficient and promising mechanism of action for the destruction of aurora borealis proteins and opens up entirely new treatment options for cancer. In the next step, the research team wants to test the efficacy and tolerance of the substance on animals. (v)
Author and source information
This text conforms to the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg: A shredder for cancer (published: 29.09.2020), uni-wuerzburg.deBikash Adhikari, Jelena Bozilovic, Mathias Diebold, among others: PROTAC-mediated degradation reveals non-catalytic function of AURORA- A kinase; in: Nature Chemical Biology, 2020, nature.com
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.