BERLIN, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Scientists from the University of Wuerzburg have discovered a new active substance that can stop the growth of skin cancer cells, researchers from the university said on Wednesday.
The findings could help counter Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but highly aggressive form of skin cancer frequently found in people with a weakened immune system.
Researchers found that special proteins coded by viral genome, named T-antigens, are able to inactivate the cells in the so-called retinoblastoma protein, whose function is to prevent uncontrolled proliferation of the cells.
Therefore, the interaction of T-antigens and retinoblastoma protein provide a potential method for therapy, said the university.
Scientists from the University Skin Clinic in Wuerzburg have published the results of their study in the scientific journal PLOS One.
"For the T-antigen to interact with the retinoblastoma protein, it needs a particular protein as a mediator, the so-called heat-shock protein HSP70," said Christian Adam, researcher at the university's department of dermatology and first author of the study.
During their study, scientists blocked HSP70 with a chemical inhibitor and examined the consequences.
"Of the seven cell lines with which we have worked, five died after the chemical treatment ," said Adam, while adding that the results gave "a certain amount of hope."
However, whether this inhibitor can be used therapeutically and whether it may stifle growth of tumor cells of other types of cancer needs to be substantiated in further investigations, according to the university.
Until a new drug for the treatment of cancer is on the market, "many more studies and tests are necessary," said Adam.