Researchers at Bangalore’s National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) led by Satyajit Mayor and Neha Vyas have identified what is known as the Hedgehog pathway and the ways in which it forms and leads to cancer. The researchers, who have published their work in the journal, Cell, say this pathway is formed when the proteins (called hedgehog), which are separate, get drawn to each other by electrostatic interactions between amino acids present around the proteins.
A small cluster of proteins then gets formed and goes on to form a mega-cluster. This travels to other cells and creates effects that are good or bad — the cluster could be normal and help organ regeneration or tissue repair, or the cluster could get hyperactive and affect other cells, which is the sign that cancer is coming.
Simply put, the NCBS research indicates that hyperactivity of the hedgehog proteins within the human body can cause cancer and that its cluster formation has to be prevented to eliminate the possibility of hyperactivity entirely.
“Identifying the initial step that initiates the electrostatic attraction between amino acids that bring together hedgehog proteins in a cluster might help other scientists to design an anti-cancer drug that could stall a mutant hedgehog pathway in effective ways,” Said Neha. Such a drug could target the very source of these attractions — the amino acids that cause them — which are the first cause of cancer.
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