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Scientists Identify Drug Target That Could Lead to Development of New Cancer Therapies

Sep 13, 2016 05:51 AM EDT
Scientists have discovered a protein that may be an unexplored target to develop a new class of therapies for aggressive cancers, such as cancer of the lungs and pancreas.
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Scientists have identified a protein that could lead cancer therapies for aggressive cancers.

Researchers from The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York identified a protein that may be an unexplored target to develop new cancer therapies.

The protein is called kinase suppressor of Ras or KSR, is a pseudoenzyme that plays an important role in the transmission of signals in the cell, which helps determine whether cells grow, divide or die, the researchers said in a press release. According to the scientists, targeting this protein could lead to improved therapeutic outcomes in cancers, such as lung and pancreatic cancers.

"New drug targets for Ras-dependent cancers have long been sought," Arvin Dar, assistant professor of Oncological Sciences and Pharmacological Sciences at The Tisch Center Institute and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

"We used data on known genetic variants in KSR that suppress mutant Ras signaling to guide the development of novel compounds. In this way our study took a very different approach as we have used chemistry to mimic genetic mechanisms that are able to block the development of Ras-dependent cancers."

Ras is a gene that frequently undergoes mutation to oncogenes commonly linked with human cancers, such as lung, pancreas and colon cancers. Despite recent breakthroughs in cancer treatment, therapeutic options that target Ras-dependent cancers are limited. According to the researchers, previous studies have indicated that targeting oncogenetic forms of Ras is possible, but no developments have been made so far.

In a study published in the journal Nature, the researchers showed how the lead compound APS-2-79 have modulated Ras signaling and increased the potency of other cancer drugs with RAS-mutant cell lines.

"KSR belongs to a large class of proteins that are not only implicated in the development of cancer, but other diseases as well," Dar said. "No one has really figured out how to exploit these important drug targets. Our study opens the possibility of modulating KSR as a new cancer therapy and also potentially an entirely new class of interventions."

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