'Cold viruses point way to new cancer therapies'

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Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) Viruses that cause colds get a bad rap, but new findings suggest that they could also be enlisted in the fight against cancer. The virus develops tools in the form of proteins that trap and overpower cellular sentries involved in the growth of cancer.

Adenovirus, a type of cold virus, has developed molecular tools - proteins - that allow it to hijack a cell's molecular machinery, including large cellular machines involved in growth and replication of cancer.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that a small protein produced by cold viruses disables large cellular machines involved in growth of cancer.

These proteins accomplish this by forming a three-dimensional web inside a cell's nucleus (yellow) that traps these components. The findings point the way to new ways to target and destroy cancer tumours.

They trap and overpower cellular sentries involved in the growth of cancer, the journal Cell reports.

"Cancer was once a black box. The key that opened that box was revealing the interactions between small DNA tumour virus proteins and cellular tumour suppressor complexes," says Clodagh O'Shea, assistant professor in Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Lab, who led the study.

The Salk findings may help scientists develop small molecules -- the basis for the vast majority of current drugs -- capable of destroying tumours by binding and disrupting large and complex cellular components that allow cancer cells to grow and spread.

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