They find an element common to all different types of cancer

A new study finds a protein present in all different types of cancer, thus opening new avenues for the development of common therapies

When people talk about cancer, it is often forgotten that There is no “cancer” but dozens, hundreds of types of cancer, each with its own characteristics. This diversity is a key factor in the so-called “fight against cancer” and represents the greatest setback in developing effective therapies: treatment for a specific type of tumor often turns out to be useless compared to another.

The global health crisis caused by the coronavirus has taught us that knowledge is, without a doubt, our best tool against any disease: without knowing our adversary we are hitting the spot and that is, to a large extent, what still happens with the different cancer therapies. In addition, this wide variety of cancer types, in many with no apparent relationship between them, has made it even more difficult for us to find a common denominator on which to build a general treatment.

For all these reasons, the study published in Cancer Cell Magazine is so important, where researchers from the prestigious Mount Sinai Health affirm have found a factor common to all the different kinds of cancer. “We have been able to determine that all cancers have an associated protein (called YAP) it exhibits different sensitivities or resistance to medications depending on whether it is activated or deactivated, ”explains Rod Bremner, lead author of the study.

We have known this YAP protein, whose acronym stands for Yes-Associated Protein, for some years now and previous studies show that its activation is “essential for the initiation of cancer or the growth of most solid tumors. Its activation induces attributes of cancer stem cells, proliferation, chemoresistance and metastasis ”. The new research greatly expands our knowledge of this protein and, perhaps most importantly, provides us with the window of opportunity to develop new strategies against the most aggressive forms of the disease.

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According to the new classification of the Sinai Health researchers, the YAP protein can be activated (YAP-on) or deactivated (YAP-off) and each of these states has opposite effects, for or against cancer in both contexts. “YAP-on cancers need the protein to grow and spread, on the contrary YAP-off cancers stop growing when we activate YAP.”

YAP-off cancers are usually very lethal and the study also shows that some of them (such as prostate or lung) are able to jump from a YAP-on state to a YAP-off state to resist therapies, which is why our current treatments are so ineffective. “This simple YAP-on / YAP-off binary rule opens up new avenues of therapies and even could become a general approach to avoid that the cancer changes of state to resist the pharmacological treatments ”.

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Scientific references and more information:

Bremner et al. “Binary Pan-Cancer Classes with Distinct Vulnerabilities Defined by pro- or Anti-Cancer YAP / TEAD Activity”. Cancer Cell, July 2021. DOI: 10.1016 / j.ccell.2021.06.016.

Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute “New Sinai Health research finds common denominator linking all cancers”

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