Alcoholism can help treat cancer

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Creating effective anti-cancer therapy remains one of the most challenging tasks in medical research. The fact is that cancer cells use the host’s own immune system to grow and spread, which ultimately becomes deadly.

Immune cells such as macrophages, which usually protect normal body cells, are captured by malignant cells and converted into MAO cells (macrophages associated with the tumor).

Such macrophages inhabit the tumor microenvironment and suppress the antitumor immune response, providing a more active proliferation of cancer cells.

In recent years, MAO has attracted great attention from scientists as a potential target for anticancer therapy. A group of researchers from the University of Tokyo under the leadership of Professor Yui Terasima showed that by blocking a specific protein in macrophages associated with a tumor, tumor development can be suppressed. A disulfiram can act as an inhibitor – a drug used in the treatment of alcoholism.

Fourteen years ago, under the leadership of Terasimi, the cytoplasmic protein FROUNT was discovered, which regulates the processes of macrophage movement in the body. This protein plays an important role in chemotaxis of cells – reactions to chemical stimuli. When FROUNT expression is blocked, cells (including macrophages) practically lose their ability to respond to chemokines – substances that control cell migration.

In a new study published in Nature Communications , scientists screened 131,200 compounds to find an effective FROUNT inhibitor. They, as we wrote above, turned out to be disulfiram. This drug is now used as a cure for alcoholism: it stops the decomposition of ethyl alcohol in the body at the stage of acetaldehyde. Drinking alcohol while taking disulfiram causes intoxication, accompanied by nausea, vomiting and malaise, and forms an aversion to the taste and smell of ethanol.

It turned out that disulfiram is also able to bind to the FROUNT molecule, making it inaccessible to interact with chemokine signaling components. When tested in mice, disulfiram inhibited the movement of macrophages and thereby facilitated the fight against the tumor to other cells of the immune system.

In the future, scientists want to better understand the interaction of disulfiram with signaling proteins that affect cell movement, because macrophages are a problem in various types of diseases. The work of researchers from the University of Tokyo can become the basis for the creation of drugs – inhibitors of the FROUNT protein with a wide spectrum of action.


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