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The discovery of WWP2 could lead to new drug advancements within the next decade  (Source:
Could lead to the development of new drugs for aggressive cancers within the next decade

University of East Anglia researchers may have found a way to prevent the spread of cancer through the discovery of a rogue gene. 

Andrew Chantry, study leader from the University of East Anglia's School of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Surinder Soond, of the University of East Anglia, have discovered a rogue gene that, if blocked by proper medication, could prevent the spread of cancer

The discovery of the rogue gene came about when the team of researchers was studying 'Smads,' which are natural cancer cell inhibitors in the human body. 

The rogue gene is called WWP2, and it is an enzymic bonding agent. It is found within cancer cells and helps the spread of cancer by attacking Smads in the human body, which are supposed to stop the spread of cancer. 

"The late stages of cancer involve a process known as metastasis - a critical phase in the progression of the disease that cannot currently be treated or prevented," said Chantry. "The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene. This is a difficult but not impossible task, made easier by the deeper understanding of the biological processes revealed in this study."

In the lab, researchers found that the levels of the natural inhibitor increased when WWP2 was blocked. This caused the cancer cells to remain dormant. 

Chantry and Soond hope this research leads to the development of drugs that can block WWP2. This would allow Smads to prevent the spread of cancer, and doctors could perform surgery on primary tumors without worrying about the spread of the disease.  

According to Chantry, these drugs could be developed within the next decade, taking researchers one step closer to success in the war on cancer. They're aiming to stop the spread of some of the most aggressive cancers such as brain, colon, skin and breast cancer

This study was published in Oncogene.

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Aggressive Cancers?
By Angstromm on 1/24/2011 10:46:43 AM , Rating: 2
Good news! Metastatic cancer is what, in the main, kills organisms. Local malignant tumors can still be very invasive, however. What I'm curious about is how disrupting or disabling WWP2 will impact local tumor growth, which can still invade or impinge upon adjacent structures.

A note on the so called "aggressive cancers" that were listed (brain, colon, skin and breast cancer): while there are aggressive forms of these types of cancer, they are not generally considered to be aggressive in themselves--these all tend to be very treatable and often don't tend to spread rapidly (definition of "aggressive cancer"). Some forms of brain cancer can be very deadly, but brain cancer rarely metastasizes. Basal cell carcinoma, which very rarely spreads or is fatal, makes up the vast majority of “skin” cancers. Melanoma, on the other hand, is a skin cancer that is very aggressive. And finally, breast cancer is also very treatable, in the main.

Some forms of cancer are still very treatable even after becoming metastatic (mets): breast cancer patients with bone mets can live for a decade or more; patients with many metastatic sarcomas and/or testicular cancer can be cured (Lance Armstrong had mets to the brain); many patients with metastatic colorectal cancer can be cured with aggressive surgery and chemotherapy. Etc.

But if you're talking melanoma or pancreatic cancer, the outlook isn't so good. Lung as well. And too, these cancers tend to be caught at a later stage, which makes things worse, of course.

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