Bcl-2, from friend to foe

Quelle coincidence! I wrote a post on the Bcl family just a few days ago (November 30th), and then yesterday I happened to read a Science Daily article on Bcl-2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/62w492). Fascinating.


The article tells us what we already know, i.e. that the levels of the Bcl-2 gene, cancer’s best friend, are elevated in a majority of human cancers, and Bcl-2 is responsible for cancer cells’ resistance to many chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation. Ok, that is the bad news. But the good news is that all this may change soon, thanks to a new discovery published in “Cancer Cell” in October. Do I sound excited enough? 😀

Thanks to a peptide named NuBCP-9, in fact, this cancer-protecting gene can now be turned into a cancer cell terminator: Researchers at Oregon State University and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif., have developed a peptide that converts the Bcl-2 protein from a cancer cell’s friend to a foe. This worked both in vitro and in vivo. When injected with this peptide, in fact, mice tumours shrank. The cancer cells simply…died. How about that?


More good news is that, while targeting cancer cells, this peptide has only a minimal effect on normal cells. As we know, this is a big problem with chemotherapy drugs that destroy both the bad and the good cells.


A couple of days ago, after reading my Bcl gene family post, a blog reader/friend sent me a couple of “Blood” studies on Bcl-2, which I still have to read and turn into a post (I am now working on about six or seven different posts…). I admit to finding all of this absolutely enthralling.


Who’d have ever thought that one day I would find studying the complex world of molecules and cells more interesting than teaching English grammar (hehe).


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