Working to further the understanding of life-threatening cancers mutations (L-R): Yong Zhou, Ph.D., John F. Hancock, M.B, B.Chir., Ph.D., Priyanka Prakash, Ph.D., and Alemayehu Gorfe, Ph.D.
The discovery of an intracellular homing system that guides a cancer-causing protein called K-Ras could help in the fight against some of the world’s deadliest cancers, report scientists at McGovern Medical School.
The research appears in the journal Cell.
Cancer-causing mutations in the K-Ras protein are found in approximately 20 percent of human tumors, including cancers of the lungs, pancreas and colon. These three types are responsible for nearly 250,000 deaths in the United States annually. Currently, no effective treatments directly inhibit K-Ras, which works as a molecular switch that normally helps the body replace cells as they die off. Mutations in K-Ras lock the switch in the ‘on’ position, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer.
In order to work, K-Ras must bind to the plasma membrane of the cell. “We’ve known for 25 years that the membrane anchor located at one end of K-Ras is positively charged…”
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