Indian scientists discover a drug target for neurodegenerative diseases & cancer

Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) based scientists have found that while activation of a specific protein (TRIM16) in human cells can decrease protein aggregates which cause neurodegenerative diseases, its inactivation in cancer cells results in reduced tumor growth

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New Delhi: A study performed in in-vitro and mice model have identified a drug target for neurodegeneration and cancer. The study identified a comprehensive mechanism by which stress-induced cellular waste are disposed of in the cells.

The Bhubaneshwar based Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), scientists led by Dr Santosh Chauhan, have unrevealed mechanisms by which the protein aggregates are formed and degraded. They found that a protein named, TRIM16 governs the cell stress machineries to safely dispose the protein aggregates which otherwise could be cytotoxic. The work suggests that pharmacological activation of TRIM16 could be a useful strategy for therapeutic interventions of neurodegenerative diseases. This work is published in the recent issue of “The EMBO Journal”.

The activation of a specific protein (TRIM16) in human cells can decrease protein aggregates. The protein aggregates are the major cause of neurodegenerative diseases. The inactivation of the same protein in cancer cells results in reduced tumor growth. Accumulation of protein aggregates is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases. For therapeutic interventions of neurodegenerative diseases, it is important to understand the mechanism involved in the formation and degradation of protein aggregates.

The study showed that the cancer cells can highjack the TRIM16 governed cell stress machinery so that they can survive under harsh cellular stress conditions including oxidative stress. Researchers found that knocking out this protein in cancer cells make them vulnerable and cannot tolerate the oxidative stress succumbing them to death. Hence, the pharmacological down-regulation of TRIM16 could have direct implication in cancer therapy.

The study was financially supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance.

*Note: Press release by DBT. Minor edits by BioVoice.