Researchers at Bath University are currently working on a custom-built molecule, which could be a potential breast cancer treatment.

The Research

A group of scientists at Bath University are currently working on a custom-built molecule that halts the growth of breast cancer tumors in lab trials- showing hope for possible cancer treatment. This molecule has the potential to be used to develop treatments for a variety of cancer types as well as other diseases.

The custom-made molecule is a modified protein that can interfere in a cell’s multiplication process in several types of cancers. The researchers also say that it has the potential to treat other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The modified protein binds with another protein that stimulates cancer development, causing it to be inactive. They also custom-made the protein to be safe from being disintegrated within cells, making it capable of travelling across membranes to get to cancer cells.

The research was a collaboration between researchers from the Departments of Biochemistry and Biology at Bath University and scientists from Queensland University in Australia as well as Bristol University. It was funded by the Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Research Council, the Physical Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Research & Medical Research Councils of Australia and Cancer Research UK.

The Researchers’ Comments

One of the leading scientists on the study, Jody Mason, explained: “Peptides have the potential to be incredibly potent drugs which are exquisitely specific for their target.

“However they are easily broken down in the body, much like when we eat a steak. We have modified the peptides so that they retain the structure they have within the full-size protein and can therefore bind to the target.”

David Fairlie, a professor from Queensland University, said:This is a particularly challenging cancer target involving intertwined proteins and large surfaces that must be blocked.”

“International collaborations like this one have the potential to combine resources and scientific skills from multiple disciplines to conquer difficult problems in targeting human disease.”

Justine Alford, the senior sciene info officer from Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, said: “This early study may have laid the groundwork for a potential new treatment for certain cancers by creating a sophisticated designer molecule that can effectively block a cancer-fuelling target in cells.

“Cancer survival is improving, but people still die from their disease, so we need to develop innovative ways such as this that could help more people survive in the future.”

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