How cancer cells stay young and aggressive

Some of the cancer cells' closest allies have been unveiled. Fortunately, the researchers from BRIC (Biotech Research & Innovation Centre) at University of Copenhagen have also discovered how to beat them.

This could prove to be the first step towards a new remedy for cancer.

The BRIC research team has discovered a family of enzymes that prevents cancer cells to age like normal cells. The good news is, that the researchers have developed small molecules that can impede the enzyme activity.

It is researchers Paul Cloos, Jesper Christensen, Karl Agger, and Professor and Director of BRIC, Kristian Helin that have proved how the enzymes, which belongs to a family of enzymes called Jumonji-enzymes, play a role in the development of cancer. They have also established that the enzymes are more frequent in cancer cells than in normal cells.

As cells are ageing, their DNA structures change and become denser. That causes the genes to be less active, which in turn will stop the cell division. The BRIC team has found three Jumonji-enzymes that are capable of loosening the DNA structure. If the cells have too many of the Jumonji-enzymes, the enzymes will make it possible for the genes to cause uncontrolled growth. That can lead to cancer.

The research team are currently working on determining how the Jumonji-enzymes control normal cell growth, and how the increased amount of these enzymes can lead to cancer.

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