Protein Slows One Cancer and Forms Another

PEA 15 protein slows ovarian tumors but helps form certain kidney cancers

(RxWiki News) Genes and the proteins they carry are increasingly seen as key players in the formation and spread of cancer. An interesting twist has come into play with one protein that both fights and promotes cancer.

A protein called PEA-15 has been shown to slow the growth and spread of ovarian cancer. New research, though, shows this same protein encourages the formation of cancer in kidney cells that have mutations in an oncogene (cancer-causing gene) known as H-Ras.

"Know the risks for ovarian cancer."

Joe W. Ramos, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and co-director of its Cancer Biology Program, says the study he led finds that PEA-15 can actually promote the bad behavior of H-Ras rather than block it. Ramos and colleagues found that PEA-15 quickens the formation of tumors.

So it seems PEA-15 is capable of playing both sides of the fence. Ramos said in a news release discussing the study, "What we now know is that PEA-15 can either enhance or impair the formation of tumors depending on the signaling pathways active in a specific tumor cell."

New research from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center has made some surprising finds regarding PEA-15 and H-Ras. The bad boy protein H-Ras is altered and plays a role in the formation and spread of number of different cancers. In most cases PEA-15 rides in on a white horse to battle H-Ras.

This activity has suggested that PEA-15 has promising value in treating ovarian and breast cancers. It's also been seen as an indicator of longer survival in ovarian cancer patients.

However, this new research suggests that PEA-15 isn't always golden after all, and suggests that pursuing its inclusion in developing anti-cancer therapies should be done with caution.

But all is not lost, according to Florian Sulzmaier, a researcher at the UH Cancer Center and first author of study. He says that PEA-15 may still be beneficial in treating some cancers, but care needs to be taken in tumors that have Ras mutations.

Results from this study were published online November 22, 2011 in the journal Oncogene.

Review Date: 
November 23, 2011