Mechanism that deactivates ovarian cancer cells discovered

Science

EMBO Reports has published details of a new discovery by scientists undertaking research funded by Ovarian Cancer Action at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Imperial College London.

OPCML is a protein that prevents cells turning cancerous but the protein is normally lost in cancer patients. AXL is a protein which, once activated, makes ovarian cancer cells more aggressive, increasing their ability to grow and spread to other parts of the body. Now scientists have discovered that because AXL reveals itself to OPCML, when OPCML is put back into cancer cells, it drags AXL to a specific point in the cancer cell and deactivates it. So because OPCML blocks most of AXL, a lot less AXL inhibitor is required to deactivate the ovarian cancer cells, which should in turn mean fewer side effects for patients being treated for ovarian cancer.

“EMBO Reports has published details of a new discovery by scientists undertaking research funded by Ovarian Cancer Action“

Co-author of the study Dr. Chiara Recchi, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College said: “Our results are really exciting because they reveal an unusual biological mechanism and shed light on the function of AXL, pointing us in the right direction to find a way to switch it off in cancer patients. In this context, OPCML has a tremendous potential as therapeutic.”

Dr. Jane Antony, Research Associate and first author of the study said: “This study will enable new treatment strategies to be designed to fight recurrent and aggressive ovarian cancer, for which there are currently limited treatment options. AXL has always been a key player in cancer metastasis and these results reveal how these cancer drivers can be modulated by tumour suppressors such as OPCML.”

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