Glasgow University has discovered a new lab-created protein – ‘stapled’ protein – which can be used as a biological drug to treat cancer in the future. This eminent discovery will undoubtedly save many people and help cure cancer, one of the top ten causes of death in our age. The stapled protein designed is a protomimetic protein – a protomimetic protein is a synthesised replica of a naturally occurring protein. The stapled protein generated is a protomimetic TPX2 protein that can interact on surfaces of natural proteins. It has been designed to have a greater affinity with the body and so, can penetrate the body’s defences to deliver a therapeutic effect.

It is referred to as a stapled protein since stapling is the process by which TPX2 was modified to make it stronger as Dr Andrew Jamieson, Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology at University of Glasgow states:

“Stapling the TPX2 protein may make it more rigid and less likely to be broken down by the body, so it has a greater chance to disrupt naturally occurring protein-to-protein interactions and provide a longer lasting benefit to patients.”

The fact it is a stapled protein gives enduring as well as resilient qualities, which can make it suitable for treating cancer. The stapled protein is also able to attach to and interact with another protein Aurora-A. The stapled protein’s ability to react with Aurora-A is especially what makes it an appropriate new method for treating cancer.   

This ground-breaking project that will provide an alternative to cancer treatment was accomplished through the collaborative effort of researchers from Glasgow University, Leeds, Leicester, and Tsukuba (in Japan). A report on the discovery of the stapled protein has been published in the AC Chemical Biology journal under the title “A TPX2 protomimetic has enhanced affinity for Aurora-A due to hydrocarbon stapling of a helix”. The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council. Ways to implement the stapled protein in cancer treatment have yet to undergo tests and trials, but will hopefully be in use in the near future. Meanwhile, we’ll remain optimistic!

[Jeehan Ashercook]


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