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An obstacle to cancer cells

This press release is also available in Spanish.

The circulation of cancer cells through the blood vessels is often the cause of metastasis. These cancer cells contaminate normal cells and the pathology spreads throughout the body. Metastasis is the main risk in cancers. In order to prevent this process from occurring, a team from the Chemistry Faculty at the Donostia-San Sebastin campus of the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) analysed the connections between cancer and normal cells.

Concretely, the UPV-EHU analysed the proteins that are involved in these connections. From amongst these proteins, they chose the ones that have a single active centre. If this centre is blocked, the cancer cell will not be able to adhere itself to a healthy cell and, thus, this path of spreading the disease is blocked.

The first thing to do is to analyse the structure of the proteins chosen. This task is undertaken using computers, given that the proteins are gigantic molecules. Once the structure is analysed and with the data for the active centre of the connection, the design of a new, small molecule to block this centre is initiated.

Diminutive in order to be stealthy

The new molecule must have very special characteristics, the main one being its size: so that our immunological system does not detect it, it has to be very small; if the new synthesised molecule is any bigger, our immunological system will detect and destroy it.

Also, this new diminutive molecule must adhere itself to the active centre of the protein and, in order to do this, it has to comply to a series of requirements, i.e. it must imitate the naturally-occurring molecule that connects to the active centre.

Using all these characteristics, a series of molecules - a family of new molecules - is designed and then synthesised. It has to be taken into account that these mole
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Contact: Garazi Andonegi
garazi@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
16-Dec-2005


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