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Scientist finds new protein to combat brain cancer

PTI | October 18, 2013, 09.10 am IST

Claiming a vital breakthrough in brain cancer treatment, an Indian-origin Australian scientist has discovered a protein that kills tumour stem cells and stops them regenerating.

Arun Dharmarajan of School of Biomedical Sciences at Perth's Curtin University has said the new protein may stop the regeneration of tumorous cell, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported today.

Dharmarajan, who was educated at the University of Madras, said the stem cells of the cancers are the "seeds" from which the tumours grow, and were often resistant to treatments including chemotherapy.

In research tests, the new protein, called Secreted Frizzled-Related Protein 4 (sFRP4) appeared to make the cancer stem cells more sensitive to chemotherapy, and could help to destroy them for good, he said.

"We may have a really effective treatment to combat cancer which would be incredibly exciting," Dharmarajan said.

When the proteins were used in combination with current drugs, the results were twice as effective in reducing the size of tumours, the report added.

The similar results could be achieved for other types of cancer, including head, neck, breast, ovary, prostate and mesothelioma which are being tested with a similar approach.

"It is a long process from where we are now to the point where we have a new cancer treatment on the shelves, but we believe it is worth the journey,"Dharmarajan said.

The study was completed in collaboration with the Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine at the Manipal University in Bangalore, India.

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