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Designer molecule targets cancer growth protein

A graphical representation of the new molecule (yellow sticks) interacting with ‘the sliding clamp’ (green surface).

A graphical representation of the new molecule (yellow sticks) interacting with ‘the sliding clamp’ (green surface).

A new molecule designed by University of Adelaide researchers shows huge potential for future cancer treatment.

The molecule successfully zeros in on a protein that plays a major role in the growth of most cancers. This protein target is called proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), otherwise known as the human sliding clamp.

“PCNA is required for DNA replication and is therefore essential for rapidly dividing cancer cells,” says structural biologist Dr John Bruning, from the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

“PCNA holds the machinery that copies DNA. The DNA slides through the centre of this donut-shaped protein where it is replicated.

“If we can inhibit the action of this protein, the cells can’t make DNA, so they can’t divide. This is really tackling cancer at ground zero. It’s stopping cell division and therefore tackling cancer at its most fundamental level."

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Tagged in Research, Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing - IPAS, School of Biological Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biomedical Science, Biology, Chemistry

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