Cancer Study Hopeful
MU professor John Tanner studies the proteins inside different cells. Right now he's studying one protein's enzymes that could play a role in cancer prevention.
Tanner is part of a team of researchers that has created a model of the Proline Dehydrogenase enzyme. The enzyme destroys damaged cells, and it could be part of the body's natural defense against cancer. Tanner says the 3D model will help scientists understand the enzyme's role better.
"When program cell death isn't working, then cancer can develop and cells that ought to die start to divide and live," Tanner said. "So it provides insight into how the enzyme actually causes cancer cell death."
MU researcher Tommi White will begin work at the National Cancer Institute next year. Ideally, she said, scientists could use the research to figure out how to jump start cell death in cancer treatment or even prevent cancer.
"One possibility down the line would be to figure out ways to activate this enzyme in order to produce cell death in specific cancer cells," she said.
The study Tanner took part in was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Tanner says cancer therapy based on the concept could take years to develop.