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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Protein can be activated, cool off cancer cells: study

Treating bowel cancer may soon be more effective thanks to a naturally occurring protein in our immune system, an Australian researcher says.

A naturally occurring protein can be activated to "cool off" cancer cells, a study has found.

Australian researchers hope fighting bowel cancer will be easier thanks to the protein, known as Ku70.

Australian National University's Abhimanu Pandey says research has found the protein can be "turned on" by using a combination of new and existing drugs.

"In its activated state, the protein acts like a surveillance system, detecting signs of damaged DNA in our cells," Dr Pandey said.

Ku70 can then cool off cancer cells and even mop up damaged DNA, preventing it from being more aggressive and spreading throughout the body. 

"Essentially deactivating them and keeping them in a dormant state," Dr Pandey said.

Bowel cancer kills more than 100 Australians a week, with one in 20 people expected to be diagnosed with the disease by the age of 85.

One in nine new bowel cancer cases are now found in Australians under 50.

Research colleague Professor Si Ming Man said future screenings could include checking the levels of Ku70 in pre-cancerous and abnormal growths found in the colon before healthy cells turn cancerous.

"Our research shows Ku70 is a good immune biomarker, meaning it helps us predict who will fare better or worse after being diagnosed with bowel cancer," Prof Man said.

"We know early detection and treatment is vital to overcoming not only bowel cancer, but potentially other cancers as well."

The research has been published in Science Advances.


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