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Study finds rogue gene attacks protein that stops cancer spreading


A breakthrough study published in the journal Oncogene reveals scientists at the University of East Anglia have discovered a “rogue gene,” that if blocked by the right drugs, may stop cancer in its tracks. The gene, called WWP2, is an enzymic bonding agent found inside cancer cells. WWP2 attacks and breaks down a naturally-occurring protein in the body which normally prevents cancer cells from spreading. Tests show that by blocking WWP2, levels of the natural inhibitor protein were boosted and the cancer cells remained dormant.

According to researcher Andrew Chantry, "The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene." Once new drugs are developed, it is hoped that conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy could be used on primary tumors with no risk of the disease taking hold elsewhere or metastasizing.

The research team is currently working with other scientists to develop such a drug. Chantry believes drugs could be developed in the next 10 years that could be used to halt the aggressive spread of many forms of cancer.

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