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Potentially potent chemo target in sight

Blocking an enzyme involved in the pathway of cell proliferation eliminated tumors in mice

10:21am, December 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Fruit flies don’t get cancer, but a protein first discovered in Drosophila could prove to be a chemotherapy target that may stop even the most aggressive cancers in their tracks.

A protein known as the “seven in absentia homolog,” or SIAH, may help put the brakes on runaway cancers, said Amy Tang, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on December 14 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. 

In fruit flies, the protein “seven in absentia” is an enzyme that tags other proteins for destruction. It is also at the end of a chain of chemical reactions — called the RAS pathway — that drives cells to proliferate.

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