Research finding could help diagnose and treat cancer and brain disorders

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have revealed how an identified protein pathway could lead to early diagnosis and targeted treatment for several cancers and disorders brain.

The team of researchers discovered how the molecular pathway or pathway of an identified protein is both essential to brain development and how altering its pathway could lead to the spread of most cancers.

The study, published today in Mother nature Cell Biology, revealed the molecular mechanisms of a timely and controlled spatial movement of cells which is essential for the migration of newborn neurons during brain development and can also cause the spread of cancer or cancer metastasis throughout the body.

This discovery is expected to have a huge impact on the fundamental understanding of ca metastasis. cells and brain development and could lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatments, the research authors said.

During brain development, cells neural stems give rise to neurons, which then migrate to specific places in the brain where they form connections and mature in function. A defect in this process is known to cause several neurodevelopmental problems. A better understanding of these events is essential to decode the fundamental mechanisms of brain development and reveal new diagnoses and new therapeutic avenues for these problems.

The most cancers are the one of the leading causes of death in the world, accounting for nearly million deaths in 2020, or nearly 1 in 6 deaths. The majority of tumors are solid, with the exception of a few types of most cancers of blood origin. Often, by the time solid tumors are detected, some cells from the primary tumor have begun to spread to other parts of the body through a process called metastasis, giving rise to secondary tumors whose cells are often resistant to chemotherapy . While surgical removal, chemotherapy, and other forms of tumor therapy can target the primary tumor, metastasis makes the outcome unpredictable and can lead to more aggressive relapse. It is important to understand the characteristics of cancer in order to tackle it.

Epithelial-mesenchymal changeover (EMT) is a particular molecular pathway that allows cell migration and is vital for early developmental processes, including brain development as well as for wound healing later in life, but it is also used by cancer cells for metastasis. The research team identified a particular protein, ZNF827, which they identified as an essential regulator of EMT. The study shows how the protein’s molecular journey or pathway is both used for the migration of newborn neurons to appropriate locations during brain development and also exploited by tumor cells to acquire migration potential and thus cause metastases in different organs.

The lead author, Dr Vijay Tiwari of Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Drugs at Queen’s University, said: “Our study not only sheds light on the development of one of the most important organs in our body, the brain, but it shows how the same protein which is essential for brain development may also be the trigger or target for the spread of cancer in the body, a true Jekyll and Hyde protein.

“The migration process of newborn neurons to appropriate locations during brain development is the m same process exploited by tumor cells to acquire potential for migration, causing movement of most cancers throughout the body, or cancer metastasis.

“By identifying key regulators of these pathways, we are opening up new opportunities for therapeutic intervention against cancer and a better understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders involving defects in brain development.”

The international team includes researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, Salk Institute for Biological Reports, Altos Labs, University of Montpellier, Karolinska Institutet, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz University Medical Center and Translational Oncology of the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz gGmbH. (TRON gGmbH).

This study was supported by Deutsche , Wilhelm Sander Stiftung and the Innovation to Commercialization program of College Investigate.

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