Swedish scientists have found a new direction in cancer treatment: they are copper-binding proteins. The findings of scientists from Chalmers University of Technology were published in the journal PNAS.
The point is that cancer cells need Memo1 proteins, which bind copper ions, for active growth and proliferation. The human body also requires this metal to carry out important biological processes. Previous studies have shown that cancer patients have elevated levels of copper in tumor cells and serum, which means that cancer cells need more copper than healthy cells.
The authors observed that when Memo1 interacts with copper, the metal's toxic redox reactions are blocked. This creates tumor dependence on large amounts of copper, because elevated levels can trigger chemical reactions that are harmful to cancer cells.
The researchers found that Memo1 can form a group with another copper-binding protein, Atox1. This molecule was previously seen to promote the movement of cancer cells and the subsequent formation of metastases with the help of copper. The results show that copper and the proteins that carry it could become new targets in cancer treatment.
In November 2022, researchers at the University of Montreal created a new DNA-based cancer drug delivery system. It consists of molecular nanotransporters that have been inspired by protein transporters.