A team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Greek Dr. Constantinos Koumenis, has recently discovered a way to make cancer cells produce high amounts of protein so they die.
The press release issued by the University of Pennsylvania explains that, ”for years, researchers have been trying to target a gene called MYC that is known to drive tumor growth in multiple cancer types when it is mutated or over-expressed, but hitting that target successfully has proven difficult”.
The breakthrough made by Koumenis’ team, is that when a protein called ATF4 is blocked, it can cause cancer cells to produce high amounts of protein and die.
“What we’ve learned is that we need to go further downstream to block tumor growth in a way that cancer cells can’t easily escape, and our study identifies the target to do just that,” Koumenis noted on the University’s press release.
Koumenis is the co-senior author on this study along with Davide Ruggero, PhD.
The researchers say that future studies will also focus on continuing to investigate why ATF4 protein works the way it does, which may help their understanding of whether there are other potential targets in the chain.
Koumenis is the Richard Chamberlain Professor of Radiation Oncology and vice chair and research division director of Radiation Oncology in the University of Pennsylvania.
Among the members of his team, who are co-authors of this study, are another two Greeks, Ioannis I. Verginadis and Nektaria Maria Leli.