Scientists find that protease HtrA2 can "clean" cells of oncogene WT1
October 23, 2015
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "This research sheds new light about how levels of WT1 are controlled and will help us understand more about its role in cancer. Although still at an early stage, this research is an exciting advance and could help to improve the treatment of types of cancer where WT1 is known to have an influence."
AICR's Scientific Adviser Dr Mark Matfield said: "This exciting new finding shows why it is so important to carry out basic research into cancer. More and more these days, we see basic research discovering something unexpected about cancer that could be a major new step forward. The more we find out about cancer the closer we get to beating it."
The team plans to study HtrA2 further, to find out how it is inactivated in cancer cells (allowing WT1 to proliferate) and what other targets HtrA2 has. This will help pharmaceutical companies design a drug to reactivate HtrA2 and apply the protease to different diseases.
It is hoped that patients will be screened for a high level of WT1 and, if this is the case, clinicians can reactivate HtrA2. And as WT1 expression is low in healthy adults, oncogenic expression of WT1 has been found to be tumour specific so targeting WT1 will be less damaging to the patient's general health.
Source: University of Manchester