New Protein may give insight to chemotherapy sensitivity

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Australia (Commonwealth Union) – The advancement in technology and better knowledge of the role proteins and enzymes has created a better understanding on the specific role of many proteins and how their function can entirely depend on enzymes. This understanding has given biotechnologist a chance to manipulate these proteins and enzymes to bring novel therapies for medical biotechnology and other applications for industrial biotechnology.

Scientists have noted a protein when seen in large quantities of breast cancer tumors, can signal if DNA-damaging therapies will be effective.

HMRI and University of Newcastle PhD researcher Luiza Steffens-Reinhardt indicated that the finding may bring in more efficient chemotherapy for breast cancer, further stating that they explored a particular variant of a protein known as p53 because their prior research demonstrated that it is present at increased levels in breast cancer linked with cancer recurrence. “We were surprised to see that by increasing the levels of this variant of p53, the breast cancer cells became unresponsive to existing therapies. Thus, inhibiting this variant could enhance patients’ responses to currently used cancer treatments. We recently confirmed these findings in living subjects,” she said.

According to Steffens-Reinhardt, the primary cause of fatalities for women with breast cancer was treatment resistance.

Associate Professor Kelly Avery-Kiejda, supervising Steffens-Reinhardt with the study, stated that this research may be a first step in improved targeting of breast cancer treatment. 1 in 8 women in Australia get breast cancer and even though there is a 92% survival rate, the secondary cancers or metastasis are not usually accounted for. She also stated that identifying biomarkers that predict how effectively patients respond to some therapies, they will be able to target the available therapies with greater effect.

The research continues from a foundation research carried out with the generous support of the Cancer Institute NSW as well as the Estate of the late Joy Heather Granger.

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