Protein May Help Targeting for Anti-Tumor Drugs

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THURSDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A protein that may help in the development of new anti-tumor drugs has been identified by Mayo Clinic researchers.

The protein -- cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) -- acts as a "quality control inspector" during cell division, and also directs cell death for cells that are damaged during division.

Normal cells pause during the division process if they detect an inaccurate genetic code embedded in their DNA. If possible, repairs are made to those mistakes.

When those genetic code errors are irreparable, CDK2 modifies another cellular protein called FOX01 to send a signal that causes the damaged cell to die, the study found.

"Quality control within dividing cells is essential because mistakes during duplication of the genetic code can lead to cancer. CDK2 is a key protein component in the cellular mechanism that leads to repair of damaged DNA," Donald Tindall, co-leader of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center prostate cancer research program, said in a prepared statement.

This finding offers scientists a potential "bulls eye" for targeting anti-tumor drugs.

The study was published in the current issue of Science.

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