The Fight Against Cancer

Cancer is a word that calls forth a torrent of emotions. If you have lived more than a decade on this planet, chances are, the disease has had a dramatic impact on your life in one way or another. Fortunately, each year brings us better treatments and carries us a little bit closer to a cure.

Case in point, new research conducted by scientists from the University of Toronto has found that a protein, which is known as SHP2, can turn off Ras, a cancer-causing protein that is responsible for 30 percent of known cancers today.

Michael Ohh, a professor from the Faculty of Medicine’s department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology, clarified the significance of this find in the press release, saying, “the inhibitors’ results were incredible. We were shocked. Nothing has had the same effect.”

Ras normally promotes cell growth, but when mutated, it can cause many forms of cancer.  With the intent of studying mutations in a rare form of childhood leukemia, the research team composed of members from Indiana University and Toronto’s University Health Health Network discovered that a SHP2 inhibitor that reduced tumors by over 80 percent.

The team originally tested their discovery on mice with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer.

A Cancer-free Future

The team is now scheduled to work with a cancer surgeon from the University of North Carolina to see its effects on mice that have have human pancreatic tumors. Should the SHP2 Inhibitor prove to be effective, the researchers will use it as a bases to push for human clinical trials.

While the study is still in its very early stages, they are optimistic about its possibility to pave the way for improved and effective cancer treatment.

“By understanding how this cancer-causing protein works, we hope to target it much more precisely than before,” said Ohh. “At the end of the day, we want other researchers to build on our fundamental discovery, providing more options for patients.”

And so the fight continues.


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