Veterans Affairs

Scaffold-kinase interaction blockade cancer treatment

Method of inhibiting the interaction between scaffold proteins and kinases to treat cancer

Medical & Biotechnology

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have recently invented a way to inhibit the interaction between scaffold proteins, which help relay messages within cells, and a type of enzyme called kinases.

A histologic slide of breast cancer cells that have grown into the surrounding tissue, displacing normal cells. VA scientists have invented a new way to treat cancer by blocking abnormal cell signaling. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

Pharmaceutical compositions that apply this method could be used to treat cancer. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Cancer is a worldwide epidemic claiming over 7.6 million lives per year and is the leading cause of death in developed countries. At its core, cancer is a disease that progresses because tumor cells co-opt signaling pathways that allow them to proliferate, survive, and invade other tissues.

Targeting these pathways in order to regulate these processes is one approach to developing cancer therapeutics.

VA researchers have created a way to block the interaction between scaffold proteins and kinases in order to inhibit the activity of a common pathway called RAS. About a third of all human cancers are driven by mutations in RAS genes, which make cells grow uncontrollably.

An agent that uses this method, called a scaffold-kinase interaction blockade (SKIB), would inhibit hyperactive or constantly active intracellular signaling in a cell that leads to this type of behavior. The goal of such a treatment would be to suppress tumor growth and metastasis, as well as to reduce tumor size and number.

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