(RxWiki News) Hundreds of proteins on the outside surface of cells interact with the world, moving things in, moving things out, acting as relay stations for signals to grow, move, divide and die.
New research is showing that proteins in brain cancer cells can be switched off.
Research in glioblastoma - a common form of brain cancer - has shown that one protein involved in cellular movement can be deactivated, preventing the tumor from rapidly spreading into healthy areas of the brain.
"Ask your oncologist about clinical trials available to you."
The protein NKCC1 is a so-called transporter protein involved in human glioblastoma. Like other transporter proteins it is involved in transporting some molecules in, and sending others out of the cell.
Diuretics are a known class of drug that affects transporter proteins, which is why they're commonly given to patients who retain water.
By affecting the same protein that increases the amount of salt and water expelled by the body, diuretics may also deactivate NKCC1. With some development of this theory, testing might reveal that water pills given for blood pressure can be adapted to slow down tumor growth and expansion.
Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, MD, said that using drugs to block the NKCC protein would loosen the cell from its surroundings as well. This would allow brain surgery for tumor removal to be substantially easier as aggressive tumors are known to entwine themselves in nearby tissue.
Research showed that removing NKCC1 from glioma cells resulted in the formation of significantly larger focal adhesions and cell traction forces that were approximately 40 percent lower than control cells.
The article was published in the journal PLoS Biology on May 1, 2012.
The authors of the study declared no financial conflict of interest existed with the publication of this research. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.