Brno Scientists Discover New Characteristics of Protein Involved In The Spread Of Cancer

A team of scientists from the Masaryk Institute of Oncology and the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University (MUNI), in collaboration with colleagues from abroad, discovered an important factor of the development and progression of breast cancer by studying the function of a protein called AGR2. Photo credit : MUNI Masaryk University

Brno, Feb 11 (BD) –The study consisted in investigation of the AGR2 protein, to learn how it works, its functions and which other proteins it interacts with. In total, 12 scientists worked on the study. The researchers collaborated with colleagues from the Universities of Rennes and Geneva on the published results.

“It has long been known that when AGR2 protein levels are elevated, the prognosis of breast cancer is poor,” said Roman Hrstka from the Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute (MOU). “Tumours are more aggressive, more resistant to treatment and have a greater tendency to metastasize, but it was not known why, or what the role of this protein is and what other proteins it interacts with.” The oncologists therefore teamed up with biochemists from the MUNI Faculty of Science, who were the only ones in the Czech Republic with unique technologies at the time that allowed them to begin the experiment. 

Scientific team at Masaryk University campus, from the left Pavel Bouchal, Pavla Bouchalová, Roman Hrstka, David Potěšil, Joan Planas-Iglesias, Petr Lapčík. Photo credit : MUNI Masaryk University

The protein has an important physiological role in embryo development and regeneration processes. On the other hand, in the case of adults that undergo malignant transformation, this physiological role of the protein is suppressed, and the protein may actually contribute to the development of cancer. “If we can accurately distinguish between interactions with proteins that are preferable and those where it is better to no longer interact, we will be able to use this to treat cancer,” Hrstka explained.

The research was funded by the Czech Grant Agency, the Czech Ministry of Health, and through projects from European operational programs and the National Sustainability Program.

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