Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

University Of Georgia Researcher Unlocks Links Between Complex Carbohydrates And Spread Of Cancer

Date:
September 19, 2001
Source:
University Of Georgia
Summary:
Research at the University of Georgia may lead to a revolutionary breed of treatments aimed at preventing the spread of cancer. Michael Pierce, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has discovered an enzyme that could help unravel the mystery of how cancer spreads in the human body. If he and his team of researchers can find an inhibitor of this enzyme that works in the body, they may be able to develop a drug that would bind to that enzyme and prevent or slow the migration of cancer cells.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Research at the University of Georgia may lead to a revolutionary breed of treatments aimed at preventing the spread of cancer. Michael Pierce, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has discovered an enzyme that could help unravel the mystery of how cancer spreads in the human body. If he and his team of researchers can find an inhibitor of this enzyme that works in the body, they may be able to develop a drug that would bind to that enzyme and prevent or slow the migration of cancer cells.

"The real killer is when cancer spreads. Almost every cancer that kills does so because it invades tissues and then moves to another location," Pierce said. "If you can remove the tumor and irradiate everything around it, there’s a good chance the person will survive. If the cancer cells have gone to another tissue, you can’t really find the tumor until it grows larger and by then it’s very difficult to treat."

In his lab at UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Pierce works to understand how carbohydrates affect cell adhesion and migration. His research, which focuses on breast and pancreatic cancer, is supported by grants of more than $2 million from the National Cancer Institute.

To migrate, a cell must achieve a delicate balance between holding on and letting go. Pierce compares it to walking on a frozen pond. Somewhere between slipping on the ice and freezing to it is the amount of traction that will allow movement.

"A cell has to be able to adhere in order to move, but if it adheres too much, it stops moving," Pierce said.

The surface of every cell contains complex carbohydrate structures that are similar to the branches of a tree. These carbohydrates are integral to the proper function of the receptors on a cell’s surface that serve as a communication network. Receptors receive messages at the cell surface and send information back to the nucleus — information that influences whether a cell divides, stays in one place, or migrates to another part of the body.

When a cell becomes cancerous, its carbohydrate branches change and so do the messages sent back to the nucleus. Starting with the altered branches, Pierce and his team worked backward to find what caused these carbohydrate changes, eventually identifying the enzyme GnT-V, which was patented through the University of Georgia Research Foundation.

Subsequent studies have revealed that when a cell is forced to produce large amounts of GnT-V, adhesion goes down and the rate of migration goes up. Over-produced in many cancer cells, GnT-V accelerates cancer invasion. Inhibiting GnT-V activity appears to slow progression of some cancers. If Pierce can create a specific inhibitor of GnT-V that works in the body, preventing the spread of some cancers might be achieved with a simple injection.

There are also diagnostic possibilities for Pierce’s research. Diagnosing a specific malignancy could become as simple as screening a blood sample for the presence of these markers.

"Cancer biotechnology is now starting to yield promise," Pierce said. "The key to curing cancer still will be early detection and early intervention that keeps the cancer from spreading."

For more information, downloadable photos and links to Dr. Pierce’s websites please see http://www.uga.edu/news/specialreport.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Georgia. "University Of Georgia Researcher Unlocks Links Between Complex Carbohydrates And Spread Of Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010919074829.htm>.
University Of Georgia. (2001, September 19). University Of Georgia Researcher Unlocks Links Between Complex Carbohydrates And Spread Of Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010919074829.htm
University Of Georgia. "University Of Georgia Researcher Unlocks Links Between Complex Carbohydrates And Spread Of Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010919074829.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins