Genetics researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered a natural process that protects healthy human cells from attacks by harmful cancerous ones.
At the center of the process is an enzyme called separase, which plays a key role in cell divison. It helps to avoid cancerous growth by inducing apoptosis (cell death) in dividing cell if irregularities are detected. “This happens by cutting two proteins that prevent cell death are often overexpressed in cancer cells.
The discovery was made by scientists Susanne Hellmuth and Olaf Stemmann who published their findings in Nature magazine. They say that controlling separase levels could be used in the fight against cancer.
“We intend to continue pursuing this approach with various research groups in the future, for example, from clinical oncology and drug development,” says Stemmann. “It’s possible that this approach will enable us to selectively destroy cancer cells with the very proteins that are used by healthy cells for their own self-protection.”