All news

Scientists pinpoint protein which can be targeted to combat lung cancer, melanoma

These are the specialists from Far Eastern Federal University, University of Geneva and Fuzhou University

MOSCOW, February 14. /TASS/. Scientists from Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University, University of Geneva and Fuzhou University have discovered a protein that takes part in development of lung cancer and melanoma. This discovery opens new possibilities for effective cure for metastases of these two types of cancer by targeted therapy medicine, the Far Eastern Federal University told TASS Friday.

"Scientists from Far Eastern Federal University, University of Geneva and Fuzhou University have disclosed that WDR74 protein plays an important role in development of the primary tumor and metastases of melanoma and lung cancer. When the scientists artificially increased the amount of this protein in cancer cells, they observed the cells’ increased activity. When the amount of protein was reduced, however, the cells have lost their ability to produce metastases and have become vulnerable to chemotherapy," the press service said, adding that the full text of the research is published in Cancer Letters and Oncogene journals.

In most types of cancers, the patients die not from the main tumor, but from the metastases that affect the vital organs. They appear at a certain stage of tumor development, when the tumor starts losing cells that get into the bloodstream. Such cells are called circulating cancer cells; they spark metastases, or secondary tumors, which appear at random body parts. Only a small amount of circulating cancer cells - one tenth or even one hundredth per cent - can create metastases.

Several years ago, Fuzhou University scientists sought to determine the difference between regular circulating cancer cells from those that spark secondary tumors. To do that, they performed protein analysis of the cancer cells and discovered that cells that produce metastases have twice as much WDR74 protein than those who don’t. The scientists theorized that this protein acts as an ignition, helping these cells to form secondary tumors.

"We’ve base two our publications around this discovery: one on lung cancer and one on melanoma. To check the carcinogenic activity of WDR74 protein in circulating cancer cells, we switched it off using CRISPR/Cas9 gene correction method and reduced its volume using interfering RNA, and observed the cells. […] We have also conducted a contrary experiment: we’ve increased the amount of WDR74 in cancer cells," says Vladimir Katanayev, natural compounds pharmacology laboratory head.

The scientists have come to conclusion that WDR74 plays an important role in tumor creation and development of its metastases. Its absence reduces, and it presence increases the carcinogenic properties of the circulating cancer cells. This was confirmed by mice experiments. The results pave the way to effective cure of metastases of lung cancer and melanoma using the targeted therapy medicine. Such medicine would affect specific target - the WDR74 protein - in the circulating cancer cells.