Cancer: Researchers have discovered the body's own tumor blockers
German scientists have discovered new properties of a human protein: it works against viral infections and cancer. Future research will show whether this body's own tumor blocker can serve as a starting point for therapies against the serious diseases.
The number of cancers is increasing
According to the Center for Cancer Registry Data at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), over 14 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, and more than eight million people die from it. There are more and more new cancer cases in Germany. The number of new diagnoses in Germany has almost doubled since 1970. Patients are usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy and / or radiation. In the future, a newly discovered tumor blocker might help to treat cancer.
New factor in the body's immune system identified
Scientists from Mainz University Medical Center have identified a new factor in the body's immune system: MYPOP - a protein that has so far been little known.
As stated in a message, MYPOP suppresses the formation of new viral building blocks and acts as a tumor suppressor.
It prevents the tumor cells from dividing and kills cancer cells. This was determined by the Mainz researchers in the course of investigations into infection with human papillomaviruses (HPV).
Oncogenic HPV types are an important factor in the occurrence of cervical cancer and other tumors in the genital, oral and pharynx areas.
The results have been published in the Nature Publishing Group's "Oncogene" journal.
Most dangerous triggers for cervical cancer
The working group of PD Dr. Luise Florin from the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the University Medical Center Mainz examines how an infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) works.
Type 16 human papillomavirus (HPV16) are reported to be the most dangerous triggers for cervical cancer.
As the scientists found in their latest study, MYPOP, a Myb-related transcription factor, has central antiviral properties: It detects invading papilloma viruses including their DNA.
It then binds to the viral capsid protein and the viral control region of the DNA. This results in a reduced expression of the viral genes, which in turn both blocks the infection of the mucous membrane cells and in the long term prevents the development of tumors.
MYPOP thus has antiviral and antitumor properties. The Mainz researchers have thus identified a new factor of cellular intrinsic immune defense, a so-called restriction factor.
Possible starting point for therapies
In the course of their study, the researchers also found that the HPV tumor cells lack the MYPOP that is normally present in high amounts in skin cells.
The reason for this is a viral, carcinogenic protein that induces the breakdown of MYPOP. However, when the scientists reintroduced MYPOP into the tumor cells, the cells could no longer divide uninhibitedly.
The scientists also observed this effect in other cancer cells. Future research will have to show whether MYPOP can serve as a starting point for therapies against viral infections and / or cancer. (ad)