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New technique finds molecules necessary for cancer metastasis

Tufts University researchers have identified several proteins on the surface of cancer cells that contribute to the cells' ability to metastasize. When the researchers destroyed these particular proteins, the cancerous cells show a significant decrease in their ability to invade healthy cells a finding that provides a new target for badly needed drugs. Although most cancer deaths occur from metastasis, not from the original cancer itself, no drug treatments are currently available specifically to prevent the spread of the cancer from the original site to other organs. The team also has discovered new roles related to the spread of cancer in two molecules known for other, non-cancer activities.

Dr. Daniel Jay presented the study on Sunday, April 3, at Experimental Biology 2005 in San Diego, as part of the scientific sessions of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The findings were made possible, says Dr. Jay, because he and his colleagues have developed a new Fluorform-Assisted Light Inactivation technology (FALI) that is a new generation of the Chromophore-Assisted Laser Inactivation (CALI) technique he created 17 years ago to inactivate specific proteins in living cells at precise times and locations. The researchers are able to destroy a specific protein, sparing all other proteins attached to the cell as well as the cell itself, by targeting the antibody to that specific cell. They tag the antibody with a dye that absorbs a specific wavelength of light. When the light is turned on (earlier technology required lasers; the new FALI technology needs only the light of a slide projector), the light energy absorbed by the dye in the antibody generates free radicals that destroy the specific protein bound by that antibody.

What gives the new FALI approach its power, says Dr. Jay, is its high throughput and its ability to couple with the large antibody libraries now available. Whereas the team used to look at one protein
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Contact: Sarah Goodwin
ebpress@bellsouth.net
770-270-0989
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
3-Apr-2005


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