Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New target for cancer research uncovered

Date:
October 24, 2012
Source:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary:
Scientists have detailed a new target for anti-cancer drug development that is sitting at the ends of our DNA. Researchers found a patch of amino acids that, if blocked by a drug docked onto the chromosome end at this location, may prevent cancerous cells from reproducing. The amino acids at this site are called the "TEL patch" and once modified, the end of the chromosome is unable to recruit the telomerase enzyme, which is necessary for growth of many cancerous cells.

Scientists have detailed a new target for anti-cancer drug development that is sitting at the ends of our DNA.
Credit: lily / Fotolia

In a new paper released October 24 in Nature, BioFrontiers Institute scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, Tom Cech and Leslie Leinwand, detailed a new target for anti-cancer drug development that is sitting at the ends of our DNA.

Researchers in the two scientists' laboratories collaborated to find a patch of amino acids that, if blocked by a drug docked onto the chromosome end at this location, may prevent cancerous cells from reproducing. The amino acids at this site are called the "TEL patch" and once modified, the end of the chromosome is unable to recruit the telomerase enzyme, which is necessary for growth of many cancerous cells.

"This is an exciting scientific discovery that gives us a new way of looking at the problem of cancer," Cech said. "What is amazing is that changing a single amino acid in the TEL patch stops the growth of telomeres. We are a long way from a drug solution for cancer, but this discovery gives us a different, and hopefully more effective, target."

Cech is the director of the BioFrontiers Institute, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Co-authors on the study include postdoctoral fellows Jayakrishnan Nandakumar and Ina Weidenfeld; University of Colorado undergraduate student Caitlin Bell; and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior Scientist Arthur Zaug.

Telomeres have been studied since the 1970s for their role in cancer. They are constructed of repetitive nucleotide sequences that sit at the ends of our chromosomes like the ribbon tails on a bow. This extra material protects the ends of the chromosomes from deteriorating, or fusing with neighboring chromosome ends. Telomeres are consumed during cell division and, over time, will become shorter and provide less cover for the chromosomes they are protecting. An enzyme called telomerase replenishes telomeres throughout their lifecycles.

Telomerase is the enzyme that keeps cells young. From stem cells to germ cells, telomerase helps cells continue to live and multiply. Too little telomerase produces diseases of bone marrow, lungs and skin. Too much telomerase results in cells that over proliferate and may become "immortal." As these immortal cells continue to divide and replenish, they build cancerous tumors. Scientists estimate that telomerase activation is a contributor in up to 90 percent of human cancers.

To date, development of cancer therapies has focused on limiting the enzymatic action of telomerase to slow the growth of cancerous cells. With their latest discovery, Cech and Leinwand envision a cancer drug that would lock into the TEL patch at chromosome ends to keep telomerase from binding there. This approach of inhibiting the docking of telomerase may be the elegant solution to the complex problem of cancerous cells. Cech, a biochemist, and Leinwand, a biologist, joined forces to work on their latest solution.

"This work was really made possible by the fact that our labs are so close," Leinwand said. "My lab was able to provide the cell biology and understanding of genetics, and Tom's lab allowed us to explore the biochemistry. We have a unique situation at BioFrontiers where labs and people comingle to make discoveries just like this."

Leinwand is the chief scientific officer of the BioFrontiers Institute and a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jayakrishnan Nandakumar, Caitlin F. Bell, Ina Weidenfeld, Arthur J. Zaug, Leslie A. Leinwand, Thomas R. Cech. The TEL patch of telomere protein TPP1 mediates telomerase recruitment and processivity. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11648

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado at Boulder. "New target for cancer research uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024164721.htm>.
University of Colorado at Boulder. (2012, October 24). New target for cancer research uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024164721.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder. "New target for cancer research uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024164721.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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