Leukaemia Treatment may be Revolutionized by Enzyme Modification

by Rajashri on Jul 31 2009 7:34 PM

A team of Canadian researchers have re-engineered a human enzyme to become highly resistant to harmful agents such as chemotherapy. This promises to revolutionize leukemia therapy.

Scientists at the Universite de Montreal and McGill University made this breakthrough as they sought ways to help correct genetic diseases.

"Our team modified and decoded an enzyme structure," says Joelle Pelletier, a professor at the Universite de Montreal's Department of Chemistry.

"We discovered, to our surprise, that our intervention allowed the heart of the enzyme to increase its mobility. This unusual mobility caused the enzyme to resist the chemotherapy agent methotrexate - a result we never predicted and one that offers promise.

"Our goal is to improve the injection of corrective genes in people suffering from genetic diseases. This discovery will lead to promising new avenues," Pelletier added.

Albert Berghuis, a professor at the McGill University Department of Biochemistry and Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology, said: "We were intrigued to find the enzyme's internal flexibility was impacted by our modifications and that this fact played such a crucial role for resistance."

"We can now harness this insight to further advance therapies for genetic diseases such as leukaemia," Berghuis added.

The study has been published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.