Nav: Home

Scientists kill cancer cells by 'shutting the door' to the nucleus

September 28, 2020

Scientists at Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, reveals a new Achilles heel for cancer that may lead to better treatments for deadly tumors such as melanoma, leukemia and colorectal cancer.

"Nuclear pore complexes are the 'doors' that all materials pass through to gain entry to the cell's nucleus. Because cancer cells are rapidly growing and dividing they need and create more nuclear pore complexes than normal cells," says

A promising new way to treat cancer

Because cancer cells are highly dependent on the nuclear transport process--the movement of molecules through nuclear pores--targeting the nuclear transport machinery is a promising strategy for cancer therapies. D'Angelo is hopeful that targeting the formation of nuclear pore complexes, which only impacts dividing cells and thus would likely only kill cancer cells, may offer a safe way to treat many cancer types. However, until now this hypothesis had not yet been tested.

In the study, D'Angelo and his team tested this hypothesis by transplanting human tumor cells that are unable to form nuclear pore complexes into mice. Three different tumor cell types were tested--melanoma, leukemia and colorectal cancer--which are known to be especially reliant on nuclear pore complexes. The scientists found that all of these mice had smaller tumors and slower tumor growth.

"We showed that the inability to build nuclear pore channels is devastating for rapidly-growing cancer cells, but doesn't seem to have an impact on healthy cells--which simply halt their growth, and then recover," says Stephen Sakuma, a graduate student in the D'Angelo lab and first author of the study. "Our findings provide an important proof of concept that this approach could lead to a new type of cancer treatment, which might be especially beneficial for aggressive or metastatic cancers that are difficult to treat."

From discovery to drug

Now that the scientists have demonstrated that their approach works, they are working to find a drug that can block the formation of nuclear pore complexes. This work is ongoing at the

"In addition to one day helping people with tough-to-treat cancers, we envision this drug candidate might be used to prevent drug resistance, which happens when tumors adopt properties to resist therapy," says D'Angelo. "Tumors would have a hard time adopting to an environment where their 'doors' are removed, so this drug might help certain treatments, such as targeted therapies, remain effective for longer periods of time."
-end-
Additional study authors include Marcela Raices, Joana Borlido, Valeria Guglielmi and Ethan Y.S. Zhu of Sanford Burnham Prebys. The study's DOI is 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-20-0581.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (RO1AR065083, RO1AR065083-S1, R01AI148668, P30CA030199) and the American Cancer Society (RSG-17-148-01-CCG).

About Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Institute

Sanford Burnham Prebys is a preeminent, independent biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding human biology and disease and advancing scientific discoveries to profoundly impact human health. For more than 40 years, our research has produced breakthroughs in cancer, neuroscience, immunology and children's diseases, and is anchored by our NCI-designated Cancer Center and advanced drug discovery capabilities. For more information, visit us at

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Related Scientists Articles:

Every COVID-19 case seems different; these scientists want to know why
As scientists around the world develop life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, many are still wondering exactly why the disease proves deadly in some people and mild in others.A new international study led by scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), The University of Liverpool and the University of Southampton is the first to give a detailed snapshot of how the body's CD4+ T cells respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Scientists can see the bias in your brain
The strength of alpha brain waves reveals if you are about to make a biased decision, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.
Scientists now know what DNA's chaperone looks like
Researchers have discovered the structure of the FACT protein -- a mysterious protein central to the functioning of DNA.
Scientists have found longevity biomarkers
An international group of scientists studied the effects of 17 different lifespan-extending interventions on gene activity in mice and discovered genetic biomarkers of longevity.
Coaching scientists to play well together
When scientists from different disciplines collaborate -- as is increasingly necessary to confront the complexity of challenging research problems -- interpersonal tussles often arise.
Scientists proposed a novel configuration of nanoscopes
TPU scientists proposed using special diffraction gratings with gold plates instead of microlenses to accelerate the generation of images from nanoscopes without losing any magnification power.
Children grow in a different way, scientists demonstrate
An international group of scientists under the supervision of a staff member of Sechenov University (Russia) and Karolinska Institute (Sweden) found out that earlier views on the mechanisms that provide and regulate skeletal growth were wrong.
'Doing science,' rather than 'being scientists,' more encouraging to girls
Asking young girls to 'do science' leads them to show greater persistence in science activities than does asking them to 'be scientists,' finds a new psychology study by researchers at New York University and Princeton University.
Encouraging scientists to collaborate on the tropics
'The changing nature of collaboration in tropical ecology and conservation,' recently published in Biotropica, investigates collaboration among scientists, researchers, and other figures whose work advances the field of tropical ecology.
Scientists penalized by motherhood
Despite gender balance at lower levels of academia, challenges still exist for women progressing to more senior roles.
More Scientists News and Scientists Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.