Posted on Mar 09, 2017, 6 a.m.
New treatments for aging and early cancer may result from the discovery of protein found to have a previously unknown role in the ageing of cells.
Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London have found a protein that had a previously unknown role in cell ageing. The study was conducted with the financial backing of the Medical Research Council as well as the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
A Word About Cell Functionality
The tissues and organs within the human body are made up of an array of different cells. They work in unison to coordinate actions for body functions. A slew of "abnormal" cells were identified in tissues from older individuals who were in the preliminary stages of cancer. Such cells endure a growth delay referred to as "senescence", which is believed to impact the manner in which the tissue functions. Senescent cells do not proliferate yet they exchange information with adjacent cells through the transmission of inflammatory proteins.
About the Study
The above referenced study was recently published in Cell Reports. The write-up explains the new manner in which senescent cells exchange information with one another. They communicate through integrin membrane proteins along with a protein known as “integrin beta 3”. This specific protein is expressed at an egregiously high level while senescence occurs. The study's head researcher, Dr. Ana O'Loghlen from the Queen's Mary University of London Blizard Institute, commented that it was the first time the integrin beta 3 was pinpointed amidst senescence and aging. She also indicated the integrin beta 3 could be a therapeutic target during the initial stages of carcinogenesis as well as the aging process.
The study was conducted with a human primary fibroblast and fibroblast cells taken from human donors of varying ages. There is a drug against integrin beta 3 known as “cilengitide” that sidesteps inflammation, which is one of the primary problems with aging in the current model. This is performed without boosting cell proliferation. It is a major advantage as heightened cell proliferation creates a risk for cancer. The research team should be commended as their findings provide a comprehensive understanding as to how integrin beta 3 is regulated. They also discovered the signaling mechanism integrin beta 3 utilizes to spread senescence to nearby cells. The hope is that these findings could soon lead to breakthrough treatments for early stages of cancer and aging.
Valentina Rapisarda, Michela Borghesan, Veronica Miguela, Vesela Encheva, Ambrosius P. Snijders, Amaia Lujambio, Ana O’Loghlen. Integrin Beta 3 Regulates Cellular Senescence by Activating the TGF-β Pathway. Cell Reports, 2017; 18 (10): 2480 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.02.012