A group of researchers at the University of Cambridge have identified lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC) cells containing high amounts of protein called BCL11A. LUSC occurs when abnormal lung cells form a tumor and then, these lung cancer cells spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes, liver, bones, adrenal glands and brain. The recent study has shown that manipulating the gene responsible for the protein stopped the development of LUSC in the mouse model of disease.
The study has also found a potential drug target called SETD8 and revealed that a signaling pathway that BCL11A was involved in. SETD8 inhibition helps to disrupt the actions of BCL11A which is an oncogene responsible for protein found in high amounts in LUSC cells.
Dr Walid Khaled, lead author from the University of Cambridge, said: “Developing targeted treatments is a real opportunity for improving the outlook for patients. “With this new drug discovery grant from Cancer Research UK we are working to develop small molecules to specifically block BCL11A in LUSC cells. We are aiming to disrupt critical interactions that BCL11A has with other proteins and are working closely with our colleagues at the Department of Biochemistry in Cambridge and CRUK Beatson Institute Drug Discovery Unit to achieve this,” he added.
These early discoveries in the field of lung cancer treatment has led to further funding granted by Cancer Research UK to facilitate the development of drug to target the protein. They are pursuing their new target to come up with new drugs. They are now working to disrupt critical interactions that BCL11A has with other proteins.
Though there’s lot more work to be done before it could be translated into patient benefit, but is a fundamental step towards that achievement. This article has been republished from materials provided by Cancer Research UK.