A West Australian research team has identified a blood cell molecule that could prove to be a key to treatment of several types of cancers like prostate, breast and colon cancers as also leukemia.
The molecule, called Liar, leads other molecules into the nucleus of the cell, and hence controlling it could mean controlling the progression of the disease.
The researchers with the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) and led by Associate Professor Evan Ingley and Director Professor Peter Klinken, have also identified the function of a known cellular enzyme, Lyn, as a switch that 'turns on' blood cell development.
"LIAR is like a key, which opens a pathway into the nucleus of a blood cell for a number of other molecules, allowing them to flow in - and these molecules are what signal the cell to develop and divide," Associate Professor Evan Ingley said.
"From here, if we could control Liar, the hope is that we could use it to switch off the growth of abnormal, or cancerous, cells.
"Because Liar is present in every blood cell, this knowledge could help treat a huge range of conditions and diseases, but where it has most potential is in cancers of the prostate, breast, colon and blood where activity of the enzyme Lyn is heightened."
The focus of the team's investigations, Lyn has now been identified as an enzyme which modifies proteins that triggers the cell to develop further.
Associate Professor Ingley said in their investigations into blood cell development, Lyn became their main focus.
"We could see Lyn had a big influence on blood cell development, so to understand how it works, we looked at what it interacts with and the effects it has," he said.
"What we then saw was Lyn interacting with Liar, and noticed it also interacted with other molecules that signal the cell to behave a certain way.
"Now we have identified Liar and Lyn and we know what they do, we'll be looking at them more closely to find out how they may have the potential to help treat cancers."
The findings, hailed as a major breakthrough, are published in Blood
, the journal of the American Society of Hematology, the world's premier hematology journal.