Scientists engineer potent weapon against cancer

London, June 1 (IANS) Scientists have synthesised a molecule that targets and destroys a key protein responsible for development of cervical and other cancers, says a study.

The E7 protein is produced early in the life cycle of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and blocks the body's natural defences against uncontrolled division of cells that can lead to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Leeds' School of Molecular and Cellular Biology have synthesised a molecule, RNA aptamer, which latches onto the carcinogenic protein and targets it for destruction.

There are many types of human papillomavirus. Some are transmitted by sexual contact and associated not only with cervical cancer but also head and neck cancer, reports Science Daily.

"We, therefore, need to maintain screening and to develop novel therapeutic strategies," said Nicola Stonehouse, lead author of the study.

"Currently, if you have advanced cervical cancer or head and neck cancer -- both of which are associated with human papillomavirus -- you really have little choice but surgery. If we can use this aptamer to target the carcinogenic protein, we might be talking about much less radical surgery in the future," Stonehouse added.

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