Have Australian scientists cracked open the pandora’s box that will lead to the curing of cancer? With every new discovery, the cure for the cancer that could wipe out an entire generation inches nearer.
Either way, is this new development, which has been ten years in the making, a breakthrough that we’ve all been waiting for? Is it more than a pipe-dream? Is there new hope to be found in this?
Work is now starting to design a drug to prevent the damaged proteins operating, effectively stopping the cancer as well as asthma and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
After spending a decade uncovering the structure of the receptor protein, which sits on the surface of white blood cells, lead researcher Professor Michael Parker, of Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Institute, said scientists could now build a drug to attach itself to the protein and stop it sending messages into the cells telling them to multiply unchecked.
“If we can stop the signal for the proliferation of uncontrolled growth of the cells then we can stop the leukaemia in its tracks,” he said.
Working with molecular biologists at Adelaide’s Hanson Institute, the Melbourne scientists used X-ray and synchrotron imaging to build an image of the structure of the protein for the first time, hoping to find a way to block its process.
The GM-CSF hormone – which controls the production of blood cells in the body – works by attaching itself to the receptor proteins, which then send a message into white blood cells telling them to multiply.
When damaged, the protein’s messages cause an over-production of cells or cells which persist too long, resulting in diseases such as leukaemia as well as some inflammatory conditions.
The major breakthrough came when the researchers realised the proteins linked together to form networks on the surface of white blood cells after being activated by the hormone, and that by stopping the networks forming they could also stop the growth.
What do you think?
-via The Daily Telegraph