Henry Winter
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£1.4 million to treat blood cancer by attacking ‘keystone’ protein

Henry Winter
Posted by
19 Sep 2012

Scientists at the University of Birmingham hope to make significant advances in the design of cancer drugs by conducting new research into a protein seen as a ‘keystone’ in the development of blood cancer.

Professor Jon Frampton and Doctors Stephanie Dumon, Paloma Garcia and Pamela Kearns have been awarded almost £1.5M by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to study the Myb protein, which is commonly affected in many cancers.

Normally Myb is responsible for ‘switching on’ genes that organise growth and replication of cells. If the amount of this protein is altered, the process can become uncontrolled, leading to the development of leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.  Drugs that counter this keystone cancer protein could help in the treatment of the 30,000 blood cancer patients in the UK.

Faulty or over-abundant proteins are often targets for cancer drugs as their elimination can reinstate normal functioning of cells or, in this case, kill the cancer cells.  With Myb heavily relied on by the cancer cells, blocking it is lethal to the cell and results in the death of and overall reduction in cancer cells. 

Professor Jon Frampton, head of the team at the University of Birmingham, said:  “We will be building on prior research that shows Myb to be a central cause of blood cancer. We hope to shed light on the processes that link this protein to the manifestation of blood cancer in hope of discovering novel cancer drugs that target Myb.”

Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said:  “This work has the potential to find hugely powerful drug targets that could be used in many cancers. We hope to see successful results within this fascinating and innovative field of research.”