Researchers from the Technion and the University of Tokyo have identified unique peptides with potential anti-cancer properties.
A study recently published in Nature Communications highlights the potential of unique peptides as anti-cancer agents. Peptides, which are short chains of amino acids connected by peptide bonds, have garnered attention for their potential role in cancer treatment.
Unlike proteins that usually contain hundreds of amino acids, peptides contain – at most – dozens of such acids. The cyclic peptides the researchers discovered bind specifically to chains of ubiquitin proteins – proteins that are usually used as a “death tag” for damaged proteins. The labeling of the damaged proteins leads to their being broken down in the proteasome, or the cell’s “garbage can.”
Peptides typically contain no more than a few dozen amino acids, in contrast to proteins which usually contain hundreds. The cyclic peptides recently discovered by researchers have the ability to bind specifically to chains of ubiquitin proteins, which are often used as a “death tag” for damaged proteins. These marked proteins are then broken down in the proteasome, a cellular structure responsible for removing waste.
The discovery of the ubiquitin system led to the awarding of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three researchers, including Distinguished Professors Aharon Ciechanover and Avraham Hershko of the Technion’s Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
Over the years, it became clear that the activity of the ubiquitin system depends in part on the point where the ubiquitin molecules are linked to each other in the chain. For example, linking the ubiquitin in the chain at position 48 (K48) leads to the removal of proteins to the proteasome, while linking the ubiquitin at position 63 (K63) leads to the repair of damaged DNA.
In recent years, Technion researchers have developed a new approach to influencing the ubiquitin mechanisms. Instead of interfering with the activity of enzymes that affect these mechanisms, they decided to try to directly intervene in the ubiquitin chain itself.
Based on this approach, the researchers in a previous work developed cyclic peptides that bind the K48-linked ubiquitin chains, preventing them from leading to the breakdown of the damaged proteins. This disruption gradually leads to the programmed death of cells. In the same study, they hypothesized and then proved that when such an event formed in a malignant tumor, it kills the cancer cells, potentially protecting the patient. This discovery, published in 2019 in the journal Nature Chemistry, led to the establishment of a new startup that is advancing the discovery toward clinical use.
In the current study, cyclic peptides that bind the chains linked to position 63 in ubiquitin and that are involved in repairing damaged DNA were discovered. The researchers found that when attached to these ubiquitin chains, such peptides disrupt the aforementioned repair mechanism. This leads to the accumulation of damaged DNA, and to cell death. Here too, when this binding occurs in cancer cells, it destroys these cells. The researchers believe this therapeutic strategy could be more effective than existing anti-cancer drugs, against which patients gradually develop resistance.
DREAM complex could hold key to fighting cancer and living longer
DNA may be the stuff of life, but if it isn't repaired in our bodies on a regular basis, it can lead to diseases that can cause some pretty unpleasant types of death. DNA [...]
A Promising New Pathway in the Battle Against Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Neuronal Molecule Makes Prostate Cancer More Aggressive Researchers discover a potential therapeutic avenue against an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of [...]
Nasal Vaccines: Stopping the COVID-19 Virus Before It Reaches the Lungs
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines have played a large role in preventing deaths and severe infections from COVID-19. But researchers are still in the process of developing alternative approaches to vaccines to improve [...]
NASA Tracking a Huge, Growing Anomaly in Earth’s Magnetic Field – with video
NASA is actively monitoring a strange anomaly in Earth's magnetic field: a giant region of lower magnetic intensity in the skies above the planet, stretching out between South America and southwest Africa. This vast, developing [...]
New, Better Models Show How Infectious Diseases Like COVID-19 Spread
Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 can spread rapidly across the globe. Models that can predict how such diseases spread will strengthen national surveillance systems and improve public health decision-making. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the [...]
Human Antibodies Discovered That Can Block Multiple Coronaviruses Including COVID-19
Results from a Scripps Research and UNC team pave the way for a vaccine and therapeutic antibodies that could be stockpiled to fight future coronavirus pandemics. A team of scientists from Scripps Research and [...]
Nanotechnology could be used to treat lymphedema
The human body is made up of thousands of tiny lymphatic vessels that ferry white blood cells and proteins around the body, like a superhighway of the immune system. It's remarkably efficient, but if [...]
DNA Nanotechnology Tools – From Design to Applications
Suite of DNA nanotechnology devices engineered to overcome specific bottlenecks in the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and understanding of molecular structures. DNA nanostructures with their potential for cell and tissue permeability, biocompatibility, and [...]
Regenerating bone with deer antler stem cells
Scientists from a collection of Chinese research institutions collaborated on a study of organ regeneration in mammals, finding deer antler blastema progenitor cells are a possible source of conserved regeneration cells in higher vertebrates. [...]
AI Takes On Cancer: Analysis of Mutations Could Lead to Improved Therapy
Cancer is a complex and diverse disease, and its range of associated mutations is vast. The combination of these genomic changes in an individual is referred to as their “mutational landscape.” These landscapes vary [...]
Exposing tumours to bacteria converts immune cells to cancer killers
New research on inflammation could lead to better treatments to improve outcomes for people with advanced or previously untreatable cancers. Introducing bacteria to a tumour’s microenvironment creates a state of acute inflammation that triggers [...]
Smart nanotechnology for more accurate delivery of insulin
More efficient and longer lasting glucose-responsive insulin that eliminates the need for people with type 1 diabetes to measure their glucose levels could be a step closer thanks to a Monash University-led project. Published [...]
Efficiently Harvesting Rare Earth Elements From Wastewater Using Exotic Bacteria
The novel strains of cyanobacteria exhibit a fast and efficient “biosorption” of rare earth elements, making recycling possible. Rare earth elements (REEs) are a set of 17 metallic elements that possess similar chemical properties. [...]
Resisting Treatment: Cancer Cells Shrink or Super-Size To Survive
A new approach to image analysis has uncovered how cancer cells manipulate their size as a means of resisting treatment. Researchers have discovered that cancer cells are capable of either shrinking or super-size themselves [...]
New Research Explains Why Children Avoid Severe COVID-19 Symptoms
According to new research, children exhibit a robust initial immune response to the coronavirus, however, they are unable to transfer this response to long-lasting memory T cells like adults do. Researchers led by scientists [...]
Scientists Unravel Protein Map of Mitochondria
A new study sheds light on the organization of proteins within mitochondria. Mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of cells, play a crucial role in the energy production of organisms and are involved in various metabolic and [...]