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Health New Researches

Newly Discovered Cancer Death Receptor Could Be Key to Finding Cure

Jogender Tushir-Singh (UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in Sacramento)

There may actually be a way to kill cancer cells with a “kill switch.” Researchers from the University of California Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in Sacramento, California say they have discovered a crucial epitope (a protein section that can activate the larger protein) on the CD95 receptor that can simply make the cancer cells die.

CD95 receptors, also known as Fas or APO-1, are a type of cell surface protein that plays a crucial role in programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis. Upon binding to their specific ligand, CD95L, these receptors trigger a cascade of signaling events that ultimately lead to the dismantling of the cell’s internal machinery and its subsequent demise. This process is essential for maintaining tissue and organismal homeostasis by eliminating unwanted, damaged, or potentially harmful cells.

The activation of CD95 receptors is tightly regulated, preventing unwarranted cell death. In healthy cells, various mechanisms ensure that these receptors remain in an inactive state. However, under certain conditions, such as during immune surveillance or in response to cellular stress, CD95 receptors become activated, initiating the apoptotic pathway.

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The researchers call these death receptors. Death receptors, they explain, do precisely what their name implies — when targeted, they trigger programmed cell death of tumor cells. They offer a potential workaround that could simultaneously kill tumor cells and pave the way for more effective immunotherapies and CAR T-cell therapy.

“We have found the most critical epitope for cytotoxic Fas signaling, as well as CAR T-cell bystander anti-tumor function,” said Jogender Tushir-Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and senior author of the study.

“Previous efforts to target this receptor have been unsuccessful. But now that we’ve identified this epitope, there could be a therapeutic path forward to target Fas in tumors,” Tushir-Singh added.

While we are still far away for a cure for cancer, this may bring us a lot closer to one. The researchers said that developing drugs that boost death receptor activity could provide an important weapon against tumors. However, though drug companies have had some success targeting the Death Receptor-5, no Fas agonists have made it into clinical trials. These findings could potentially change that.

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