October 22, 2008
Scientists unlock secret of death protein's activation
May lead to drugs that force cancer cells to self-destruct
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified a previously undetected trigger point on a naturally occurring "death protein" that helps the body get rid of unwanted or diseased cells. They say it may be possible to exploit the newly found trigger as a target for designer drugs that would treat cancer by forcing malignant cells to commit suicide.Really neat...kill cancer by having cancer kill itself."The discrete subset of amino acids that shifted upon exposure to the stapled BH3 peptide mapped to a completely unanticipated location on BAX," said Walensky. The long-elusive binding site on BAX that initiates its killer activity was revealed.
"Because BAX lies at the crossroads of the cell's decision to live or die, drugs that directly activate BAX could kill diseased cells like in cancer and BAX-blocking drugs could potentially prevent unwanted cell death, such as in heart attack, stroke, and neurodegeneration," said Walensky.