[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Cancer experts spot protein role
Cancer sample
The protein MDM2 can become a cancer-promoting agent
A breakthrough in research could pave the way for new anti-cancer drugs, according to scientists.

Experts at Edinburgh University have identified the way a specific cell protein triggers the spread of cancer.

A biochemical imbalance causes the protein, MDM2, to activate the destruction of the key cancer-preventing protein p53.

The scientists said that new drugs could be designed to help prevent MDM2 acting as a cancer-promoting agent.

Lead investigator Dr Kathryn Ball said the study, which is funded by Cancer Research UK, had also identified a possible template for new drugs.

"We have identified protein fragments which can bind to MDM2, inhibiting its activity," she said.

"These fragments could be a good template for drugs designed to hinder the role of MDM2 in the p53 destruction pathway."

'Excellent target'

Prof John Toy, medical director at Cancer Research UK, welcomed the findings.

He said: "P53 is a crucial protein that acts as a guardian of the normal cell.

"Its failure to do its job properly is associated with many types of cancer.

"If p53 is being destroyed by another protein in a cancer cell, then it offers an excellent target when designing new anti-cancer drugs.

"This research suggests MDM2 is just such a target."

The study is published in the 21 July edition of Molecular Cell.

Cancer agent mysteries revealed
05 May 06 |  Health
Academic in cancer 'breakthrough'
20 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland
Cancer cells 'can live forever'
29 Apr 04 |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific