Biologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently designed a peptide that could counter several forms of cancer. The peptide targets the Mcl-1 protein that is vital for the survival of cancer cells. The protein immunes the cancer cell from dying through the DNA damage, thus, enhancing cellular growth. Blocking Mcl-1 with the newly designed peptide would lead to programmed death of cancer cells. The researchers have succeeded in developing peptide molecules that could effectively target the cells.
Binding Mcl-1 Protein with Peptide Drugs Inhibits Cellular Growth
Programmed cell death is called ‘apoptosis’, and Mcl-1 protein prevents the initiation of apoptosis in the body. This results in the growth of the cancer cells, and successively makes them resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Mcl-1 is one of the five proteins that prevent the death of cancer cells, resulting in the prevalence of lymphomas and acute myeloid leukemia. Peptide drugs strongly cling to the Mcl-1 protein, thus, preventing it from binding with cancer cells. This ensures that the cancer cells do not get any subsistence from the Mcl-1 protein, thus, causing strategic death of these cells. The binding of the peptide to the Mcl-1 protein was tried with 40 variants of peptides to identify the ideal binding spot.
Opening Avenues for Further Research
Two of the best performing Mcl-1 inhibitors were tested on cancer cells by the researchers. It was found that these inhibitors did not require assistance from any other forms of drugs and could independently kill the cancer cells. The biologists believe that the research has helped in establishing the relevance of peptides in blocking Mcl-1 protein. However, there is a need to conduct further testing to understand the effects of peptides on specific cancers.