A new gene has been discovered that can permanently stop cancer cell proliferation, researchers say.
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientists have uncovered a mutant form of the gene, Chk1, that when expressed in cancer cells, permanently stopped their proliferation and caused cell death without using chemotherapeutic drugs.
This is a groundbreaking study as it reveals that artificially activating Chk1 alone is sufficient to kill cancer cells.
Dr. Zhang, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, and member of the university’s Case Comprehensive Cancer Centre said: “We have identified a new direction for cancer therapy and the new direction is leading us to a reduction in toxicity in cancer therapy, compared with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
“With this discovery, scientists could stop the proliferation of cancer cells, allowing physicians time to fix cells and genetic errors.”
Dr Zhang’s team made the discovery by accident while studying the basic mechanisms for genome integrity. They found that an active mutant form of human Chk1 that was able to change the protein conformation from the inactive form into an active form.
Remarkably, they also found that when expressed in cancer cells, this active mutant form of Chk1 permanently stopped cancer cell proliferation and caused cell death in petri dishes even without the addition of any chemotherapeutic drugs.