Hope for cancer patients.
Scientists have developed a new drug that blocks a transcription factor — previously thought to be un-blockable — that has been causally linked to leukemia and several other cancers of the lungs, ovaries, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract, they report in Nature this this week.
The Notch transcription factor regulates cell-cell communication in the Notch signaling pathway, a system governing cell growth and development. Mutations in the transcription factor can result in uncontrolled cell growth, often causing cells to turn cancerous. But transcription factors are notoriously hard for medicinal chemists to target because they work by forming complexes with multiple proteins, leaving no open binding sites for small molecules to fit into.
“It’s exciting research,” said Andrew Weng, a molecular biologist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada, who was not involved in the study. “A lot of people have been asking for a way to inhibit transcription factors, but efforts have been unsuccessful for so long. This new study holds a lot of therapeutic potential.”