Protein can block vitamin A cancer therapy

14 August 2014

A study, published in the online edition of the journal Cancer Research, has found why a certain cancer treatment may be ineffective with some patients.

Retinoic acid - a form of vitamin A - is used in cancer treatment to reduce the chance of recurrence of the disease, but some patients have been unresponsive. A team of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have now found out that this is because of the presence of a protein.

The team, led by Professor Devanand Sarkar, demonstrated that a protein known as AEG-1 blocks the benefits of retinoic acid in leukemia and liver cancer and, as AEG-1 is overexpressed in most cancers, these findings could significantly impact cancer treatment.

They found that AEG-1 binds to retinoid X receptors, which help regulate cell growth and development and is typically activated by retinoic acid. However, the high levels of AEG-1 proteins found in cancer cells block these signals and help promote tumour growth.

Professor Sarkar said: "This research has immediate clinical relevance such that physicians could begin screening cancer patients for AEG-1 expression levels in order to determine whether retinoic acid should be prescribed."

Posted by Philip Briggs​


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