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Peptide prevents tumour growth and metastasis

(Vienna, 14 Feb. 2011) In a current study researchers from MedUni Vienna have been able to inhibit the migration of cancer cells with a special peptide. This enables new approaches in the battle against tumours.

For certain cells it is necessary for them to move inside the body. This applies to immune cells, for example, which have to detect invaders and also tumour cells and render these harmless. Tumour cells often take advantage of this characteristic and “capture” such cells or use the same mechanisms to penetrate into the tissue themselves and form metastases. The urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and a special receptor (sM6P/IGF2R, CD222) which regulates these uPA functions play a key role here.

In an interdisciplinary study researchers from the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at MedUni Vienna have now been able to show that with a peptide derived from this special receptor it is possible to directly influence the regulation of the uPA system. This means that in initial experiments it has been possible to inhibit the migration of vessel-forming endothelial cells and the penetration of cancer cells in artificial tissue in in-vitro experiments and also to prevent the growth of human melanomas in vivo in laboratory animals. This is now leading to new therapeutic approaches for suppressing tumour growth and metastasis.

Inhibition of the migration of endothelial cells (green) to an artificial tissue by the M6P/IGF2R peptide (right) compared with a control peptide (left).

Univ. Prof. Dr. Hannes Stockinger, Head of the Institute, explains: “We are one step closer to understanding the migration mechanisms of cells so that strategies can be developed for specific cell types. With these strategies it is then possible to inhibit the migration of tumour cells without influencing the migration of the tumour-fighting immune cells, however.“

The work of Dr. Vladimir Leksa from the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Centre for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology was the result of cooperation with the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology, the Departments of Dermatology and Medicine I at MedUni Vienna, and the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Slovakian Academy of Sciences.

» Publication in “Circulation Research”:
Soluble M6P/IGF2R released by TACE controls angiogenesis via blocking plasminogen activation
Vladimir Leksa, Robert Loewe, Brigitte Binder, Herbert B. Schiller, Paul Eckerstorfer, Florian Forster, Ana Soler Cardona, Gabriela Ondrovičová, Eva Kutejová, Eva Steinhuber, Johannes Breuss, Johannes Drach, Peter Petzelbauer, Bernd R. Binder †, Hannes Stockinger
doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.110.234732