Israel has made an exciting breakthrough in cancer research, offering a glimmer of hope that a cure will be found.
The two crucial proteins, known as KPC1 and p50, were found during ongoing research on the ubiquitin system, an important and vital pathway in the life of the cell, which is responsible for the degradation of defective proteins that could damage the cell if not removed. The ubiquitin system tags these proteins and sends them for destruction in the cellular complex known as the proteasome. The system also removes functional and healthy proteins that are no longer needed, thus regulating the processes that these proteins control.
High levels of KPC1 (which generates p50) and p50 (the product of the process), together with other processes in the cell, suppress the malignant growth and apparently protect the healthy tissue.
The research was conducted on models of human tumors grown in mice, as well as on samples of human tumors, and a strong connection was discovered between the suppression of malignancy and the level of the two proteins, clearly indicating that the increased presence of KPC1 and p50 in the tissue can protect it from cancerous tumors.
The research was conducted in the laboratory of Israeli Nobel Prize laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team was led by research associate Dr. Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv and included additional students and colleagues as well as physicians from Rambam, Carmel and Hadassah Medical Centers who are studying tumors and their treatment.
The finding was publicized in a paper published in the April 9, 2015 edition of CELL, which details the discovery of two cancer-suppressing proteins.
Ciechanover, who is also the president of the Israel Cancer Society, notes that many more years are required “to establish the research and gain a solid understanding of the mechanisms behind the suppression of the tumors. The development of a drug based on this discovery is a possibility, although not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple.”
Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2004 jointly with Israeli Professor Avram Hershko, also from the Technion, for the discovery of the ubiquitin system, which is now key to this revolutionary process. The current line of research is a continuation of that discovery.
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