A protein involved in taxane resistance, a group of cancer drugs that includes paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel (Taxotere) have been discovered by Scientists at Children's Hospital Boston, and has become front-line therapy for a variety of metastatic cancers.
The researchers believe that the protein, prohibitin1, could also serve as a biomarker, allowing doctors to predict a patient's response to chemotherapy with a simple blood test.
During the study, lead researcher Bruce Zetter, PhD, of Children's Vascular Biology Program, used proteomics techniques to compare the proteins present in Taxol-susceptible versus Taxol-resistant human tumour cell lines.
The researchers found that the resistant cell lines, but not the susceptible cell lines, had prohibitin1 on their surface.
When they suppressed prohibitin1 with RNA interference techniques, the tumour cells became more susceptible to Taxol, both in cell culture and in live mice with implanted Taxol-resistant tumours.
"We are working to target various cancer drugs to taxane-resistant cells by attaching them to compounds that bind to prohibitin," said Zetter.
One such compound is already known, and works well in animals to target other prohibitin-rich cells, but has yet to be tested in humans.
The study is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.