Enzyme linked to colorectal cancer identified

London:Researchers have discovered variant of an enzyme that can activate genes responsible for tumour progressions of colorectal cancer.

Researchers from the IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) believe that a new line of drugs to inhibit enzyme IKK alpha specifically which is less toxic for the remaining body cells can improve treatment of colorectal cancer.

"We studied the particularities that distinguish the pre-tumour activity of IKK alpha from its normal physiological activities, which are known to be essential for the survival of non-cancerous cells and can therefore not be pharmacologically inhibited without causing great harm to the body," said Dr Lluis Espinosa, director of the study.

IKK alpha is a specific type of enzyme, known as kinase. These enzymes are proteins that act on other proteins adding to them a phosphate and thus modifying their function.

The p45-IKK alpha, which researchers identified, is located in the nucleus of cancer cells and their action is essential for the progression of the tumour.

Researchers analysed a total of 288 human samples of colorectal cancer, identifying the presence of p45-IKK alpha in most of them and proving that specifically blocking this new form of IKK alpha avoids the growth of this particular cancer cells.

"The most important novelty of our findings is the identification of a new form of the IKK alpha kinase, which is mainly involved in activating genes that take part in the tumour progression, and that differs from the main activity of this kinase in normal cells," Espinosa said in a statement.


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