Biologists have learned to slow down the growth of cancer cells

© University of Rochester Medical CenterТак the artist imagined dividing cancer cellsBiologists have learned to slow down the growth of cancer cells© University of Rochester Medical Center

Biologists from the United States found a way to suppress or greatly slow down the growth of cancerous tumors, blocking the protein needed to start the fission process all living cells, according to a paper published in the journal Science.

«We knew that the TSN protein molecules are more abundant in cancer cells than their healthy counterparts, and our study shows that blocking it could slow or stop super-fast growth of cancer,» said Raad Elbarbary (Reyad Elbarbary) from the University of Rochester (USA).

One of the hallmarks of cancer cells is that they absorb a lot of nutrients and oxygen, using them to their uncontrolled growth and reproduction. In recent years, scientists are actively trying to understand how they manage to do it, and use the obtained data to create drugs, «suffocating» the cancer cells or preventing their reproduction.

For example, in February of this year, biologists from the Moscow state University have found that substances that prevent the penetration of oxygen and glucose to cancer cells, much better able to cope with the destruction of the tumor than conventional chemotherapy, which damages DNA.

Elbarbary and his colleagues have discovered another method of «unconventional» cancer, by studying how to multiply cultures of cells extracted from tumours inside the uterus and kidneys. In the course of these experiments, the scientists «turned off» various genes associated with cell division, and watched what happened to them after such procedures.

The attention of scientists was attracted to gene and protein TSN acting as, at first glance, not associated with cell division. This substance, as the researchers explain, is responsible for the destruction of short RNA molecules that block or stimulate «reading» of other genes. Such molecules are formed in the cells continuously, and scientists had not thought that this protein may be associated with the reproduction of cancer cells.

It turned out that this is not «disabling» TSN has considerably slowed the division of cancer cells. This happened for the reason that this protein decomposes all short RNA, but only a set of several dozen such molecules that block genes associated with the transition of cells from quiescence in the first phase of the division — CDK2, CCND1, E2F1 and E2F2.

Accordingly, damage to the TSN gene or neutralization of the protein molecules increases the concentration of RNA molecules and gives them the ability to block the genes of division and growth. It slows down the growth of cancer cells that allows the use of a similar technique as one of the elements of chemotherapy or a separate method of dealing with malignant tumors.

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