Web helped boost a gene responsible for our body’s ability to fight cancer

(ORDO NEWS) — The incredible properties of the web have allowed it to enter the world of medical research, where the substance has repeatedly shown potential in fields ranging from gene therapy to reconstructive surgery.

Scientists have found another use for this natural material, using it to stabilize and enhance a cancer-killing protein – the so-called “guardian of the genome”

In half of all cancers known to science, all the fault lies with mutations or other forms of dysfunction of the p53 gene. This protein gets its nickname – the “guardian” – because of the role it plays in watching over cell division, stopping the process if it detects DNA damage or mutation, and preventing damaged cells from becoming cancerous.

His study of which has become a key moment for scientists involved in the search for new forms of treatment. One of the downsides of p53 is that it tends to break down quickly in cells, so KI scientists teamed up with researchers from the University’s Department of Biosciences and Nutrition to see if nature can help rid humanity of cancer.

How our body fights cancer

“The problem is that cells only produce a small amount of p53, and then quickly break it down, because it is a very large and disordered protein,” said study author Michael Landre. “Inspired by how nature itself creates much more stable proteins, we used a web protein to stabilize this gene.

The web is made up of long chains of highly stable proteins and is one of the strongest polymers in nature. The scientists took a small piece of a synthetic web protein and attached it to human p53, forming an entirely new compound.

The introduction of this “chimeric” protein into cells in experiments in vitro (that is, “in vitro”) showed that cells willingly produce a chimeric protein in large quantities, while it turned out to be more stable than regular p53, which dramatically reduced the chances of cancer diseases.

Genetic glue

Using a combination of electron microscopy, computer simulations and mass spectrometry, the researchers were able to figure out the reasons why the addition of the spider protein has such an effect.

It adds structural integrity to the disordered regions of human p53, the scientists say, although the structure of the new protein and its effect on healthy cells remains to be explored.

The discovery looks promising, but before applying this therapy to living organisms, scientists still need to prove that it is safe and will not cause other side effects.


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