UNC Scientists Block Cellular Enzyme Activity Involved In Cancer Progression

Published: Jun 02, 2004

The ability to switch off a cellular enzyme involved in the progression of several forms of human cancers has been discovered by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. This enzyme is called focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which normally promotes cellular activity and growth. But overactivity of FAK encourages cancer cell growth and the spread of cancer. The UNC researchers found a segment of FAK, called the FERM domain, is crucial to the activation of FAK. They also found that subtle changes to the FERM domain suppresses FAK activity. This finding suggests it may be possible to develop drugs that mimic this modification and turn off FAK in cancer patients. The study appears in the June 2 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

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