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Biologists' new peptide could fight many cancers

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MIT biologists have designed a new peptide that can disrupt a key protein that many types of cancers, including some forms of lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer, need to survive.

MIT biologists have designed a new peptide that can disrupt a key protein that many types of cancers, including some forms of lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer, need to survive.

The new peptide targets a protein called Mcl-1, which helps cancer cells avoid the cellular suicide that is usually induced by DNA damage. By blocking Mcl-1, the peptide can force cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death.

“Some cancer cells are very dependent on Mcl-1, which is the last line of defense keeping the cell from dying. It’s a very attractive target,” says Amy Keating, an MIT professor of biology and one of the senior authors of the study.

Peptides, or small protein fragments, are often too unstable to use as drugs, but in this study, the researchers also developed a way to stabilize the molecules and help them get into target cells.

Read more at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Image: MIT biologists have designed a new peptide that can disrupt a key protein that many types of cancers, including some forms of lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer, need to survive.

CREDITS: Gregory Bird and Chelsea Turner / MIT