New function of a protein involved in colon cancer is identified

October 04, 2012

Researchers from IMIM, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, have succeeded in determining the function of a new variant of enzyme IKKalpha (IKKα) to activate some of the genes taking part in the tumor progressions of colorectal cancer. In the future, this fact will make it possible to design new drugs that inhibit this enzyme specifically and are less toxic for the remaining body cells, hence improving the treatment for this disease.

The study is the culmination of previous research by the IMIM Research Group on Stem Cells and Cancer that had proven the existence of a link between the activation of the IKKα enzyme and occurrence of colorectal cancer in humans. "We studied the particularities that distinguish the pre-tumor activity of IKKα from its normal physiological activities, which are known to be essential for the survival of non-cancerous cells and can therefore not be pharmacologically inhibited without causing great harm to the body" explains Dr. Lluís Espinosa, a member of the group and the director of this study.

IKKα is a specific type of enzyme, known as kinase. These enzymes are proteins that act on other proteins adding to them a phosphate and thus modifying their function. The p45-IKKα, which we identified, is located in the nucleus of cancer cells and their action is essential for the progression of the tumor. Lluís Espinosa adds: "The most important novelty of our findings is the identification of a new form of the IKKα kinase, which is mainly involved in activating genes that take part in the tumor progression, and that differs from the main activity of this kinase in normal cells".

For this research a total of 288 human samples of colorectal cancer were analyzed, identifying the presence of p45-IKKα in most of them and proving that specifically blocking this new form of IKKα avoids the growth of this particular cancer cells.

The results of this work open the door to multiple research lines aiming to discover the mechanisms that generate and activate this p45-IKKα enzyme, and identifying possible inhibitors that are more effective against tumor cells, that are less toxic for the remaining body cells. However, it is important to note that while these results represent an important advance towards understanding the mechanisms of tumor progression, further research will be needed before considering future therapeutic applications of this type of drugs in patients with colorectal cancer.
-end-
Reference study:

"A novel truncated form of IKK is responsible for specific nuclear IKKα activity in Colorectal Cancer". Pol Margalef, Vanessa Fernández-Majada, Alberto Villanueva, Ricard Garcia Carbonell, Mar Iglesias, Laura López, María Martínez-Iniesta, Jordi Villà-Freixa, Mari Carmen Mulero, Montserrat Andreu, Ferran Torres, Marty W Mayo, Anna Bigas, Lluis Espinosa

IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute)

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.