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Could a protein be vital in diagnosing cancer?
August 15, 2022
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) have helped shed light on a ‘Jekyll and Hyde protein’ in a study that could play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating cancer and brain disorders.
Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) is a molecular pathway that facilitates cell migration during healthy brain development, whereby stem cells give birth to neurons which then migrate to specific parts of the brain.
EMT is vital for early development processes and wound healing, and a defect in the process is known to be behind several neurodevelopmental disorders.
Now the research team has identified a particular protein, ZNF827, as a critical regulator of EMT.
Their study, published in Nature Cell Biology, has revealed that the protein’s molecular pathway is employed for normal migration of newborn neurons during brain development, and is also exploited by tumour cells to gain migration potential for metastasis, whereby cancer spreads throughout the body. Metastasis can cause chemotherapy-resistant secondary tumours, paving the way for aggressive relapses and unpredictable patient outcomes.
Speaking of their findings, Dr Tiwari said “By identifying key regulators of these pathways, we open new opportunities for a therapeutic intervention against cancer and a better understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders involving defects in brain development.”
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