Enzyme That 'Cleans Off' Cancer Cells Discovered

ScienceDaily (Feb. 1, 2010) — Scientists have discovered that an enzyme can rid cells of a gene believed to be responsible for a wide range of cancers.

Dr Jorg Hartkamp and Dr Stefan Roberts have found that the protease HtrA2 can "clean" cells of the oncogene WT1, which is found at high levels in many leukaemias and solid cancers such as breast and lung cancer.

Their work has given drug designers a new target which will allow them to develop treatments for all these cancers in which WT1 expression is elevated.

WT1 is a well-known factor in cancer, having been discovered 20 years ago. It suppresses the development of Wilms' tumour of the kidney, a rare cancer that affects one in 10,000 children. However it has a cancer causing role in other forms of the disease, particularly leukemias such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

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