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Medical News & Perspectives
March 24/31, 2004

Researchers Identify Protein That Helps Tumor Cells Resist Cancer Drugs

JAMA. 2004;291(12):1433. doi:10.1001/jama.291.12.1433

Cancer cells often corrupt normal cellular molecules and processes in order to multiply and grow out of control. Scientists now report that the majority of tumors rev up production of a normal protein to help protect malignant cells from the effects of anticancer drugs (Cancer Cell. 2004;5:163-175).

A protein of interest

The protein that confers this drug resistance is MUC1, a member of the mucin family. Few researchers have paid much attention to these proteins, said study author Donald Kufe, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "Mucins aren't very interesting—they make up mucus," he said. But their overabundance in many different kinds of cancers "was enough to keep us working on it."