Magazine article USA TODAY

Illuminating Offending Proteins Fluorescently

Magazine article USA TODAY

Illuminating Offending Proteins Fluorescently

Article excerpt

Fluorescence that illuminates a specific protein within a cell's nucleus may be a key to identifying cancer virulence and developing individualized treatment, according to researchers at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Scientists created a technique that locates and maps proteins involved in regulating cell behavior automatically, notes Sophie Lelievre, assistant professor of basic medical sciences. The research results have, for the first time, made it possible to verify the distinction between multiplying cells that are harmless and those that are malignant.

Lelievre used human mammary cells to analyze nuclear protein distribution that shifted depending on whether a cell was malignant, had not yet developed a specific function, or was a normally functioning mature mammary cell.

"When you look at cells that don't yet have a specific function--aren't differentiated, compared to fully differentiated cells, which are now capable of functioning as breast cells--the organization of proteins in the nucleus varies tremendously," Lelievre explains. "Then, looking at how the proteins in malignant cells are distributed, it's a totally different pattern compared to normal differentiated cells."

Ultimately, scientists want to use the technique to determine not only if a lesion is malignant, but the exact type of cancer, how likely it is to spread, and the most appropriate treatment for a particular patient.

"The major problem exists in the premalignant stages of abnormal cells in determining whether cancer will develop, what type, and how invasive it will be," Lelievre emphasizes. …

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