SYRACUSE, N.Y., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. research team says it has discovered a molecular switch that causes the body to produce cancerous cells.
The Syracuse University scientists, led by Assistant Professor Michael Cosgrove, said the switch is located within the Mixed Lineage Leukemia protein complex that helps regulate formation of white blood cells. They said the new switch might be exploited to prevent the overproduction of abnormal cells that are found in several types of cancer, including leukemia.
The research team labeled their molecular discovery W-RAD.
"We thought that MLL was the only switching mechanism present in this protein complex," Cosgrove said. "However, we discovered the complex is really two switches. The W-RAD switching mechanism signals the cell to create multiple copies of cancer cells.
"If we can find a way to turn off this switch, we might be able to slow or stop the production of abnormal cells and convert them to normal cells," he said.
The paper appears in the Sept. 4 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.