Scientists found out that the protein LHPP prevents cancer cells in the liver from proliferating unchecked
Basel – Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer that is usually discovered late. If the organ is already badly damaged, the chances of healing are bad. With the use of the anti-cancer protein LHPP as a biomarker, physicians could offer their patients better treatment options, researchers at the University of Basel are convinced.
Liver tumors develop from previously damaged cells that grow uncontrollably and proliferate indefinitely. Anti-cancer proteins, called tumor suppressors, prevent excessive cell growth. However, they are often defective in cancer cells. The research group from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has now discovered a new, yet unknown tumor suppressor with LHPP.
In one study they were able to show that the loss of LHPP promotes tumor growth and reduces the chance of survival of cancer patients. In addition, it could be used as a prognostic biomarker.
New anti-cancer protein LHPP
The researchers developed a mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma by activating the growth protein mTOR in the liver. They analyzed a total of more than 4,000 proteins and compared them in healthy tissue and cancerous tissue. They identified an enzyme, the histidine phosphatase LHPP, as a potential biomarker.
“It was very noticeable that LHPP occurs only in healthy tissue and is completely absent in the tumor samples,” says first author Sravanth Hindupur. The animals reintroduced into the LHPP genetic information did not develop tumors and their liver function was preserved. “Similar to the mouse model, we also saw markedly reduced LHPP levels in tumors of patients with liver cancer,” adds Hindupur.
What the researchers found out: The severity of the disease as well as the life expectancy is directly related to the amount of LHPP. With a complete loss of the anti-cancer protein, cancer patients die on average two years earlier. (red, 22.3.2018)