Research into the role of proteins in cancer treatment

Tumors often have different cell types and characteristics, making it difficult to treat specifically

How does a common protein in the body affect the growth of cancer cells? This question is keeping scientists at Maastricht UMC+ busy, because it appears that the so-called protein DMT1 could play an important role in cancer treatment. Researchers will receive €350,000 from NWO for this primary research.

A tumor often has different cell types and characteristics, which make it difficult to treat specifically. Although radiation and chemotherapy kill cancer cells, they also damage healthy tissue. Moreover, metastases complicate successful treatment. Therefore, targeted treatment methods are essential. This is what the Department of Radiotherapy and the research team of Prof. Dr. Marc Voigs are looking for and receiving this scholarship.

Previous research led to the discovery of NOTCH: a protein that plays an essential role in the development and division of cancer stem cells. Now that this process has been identified, Maastricht researchers are wondering how they can influence this process, so that tumor growth can be stopped or even reversed.

The protein DMT1 appears to be able to play a role in this. This protein, which is found in many cells of the body, is characterized as transporting iron. It is precisely this iron transport that affects, among other things, the acidity of vesicles in cells, since the NOTCH process is also activated. This research will therefore focus on how DMT1 can disrupt or inhibit the NOTCH protein in normal body cells and in cancer cells, specifically targeting the intestine.

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basic research
The research aims to identify the mechanisms underlying cancer at the cellular level. In the long term, scientists hope to enable new cancer treatments that cause less collateral damage than treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

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Name of author and/or editor by: Maastricht UMC +
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original title: Money needed for basic research into the role of proteins in cancer treatment
the target audience: Health care professionals and students
date: 2021-11-14

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