The protein known as RIP1 has a double-life, according to a study conducted by Professor Xu Dong Zhang of the University of Newcastle.
The molecule, known as Receptor-Interacting Protein kinase 1, has been known to cause the death of cells in the body, but insufficient attention has been given to its pro-survival function in melanoma cells.
According to Professor Zhang, RIP1 sits near the top of signaling pathways for melanoma. By controlling its levels should result in a reduction of subsequent signals, and prevent further tumor growth.
“We started investigating RIP1 from a perspective of necrotic cell death before finding that it actually plays an important role in regulating melanoma cell survival … we had to turn our entire thinking around,” Professor Zhang says. “It appears to be unregulated [have elevated levels] from the earliest stages of melanoma so if we can inhibit the molecule’s survival mechanism we believe we’ll be able to kill melanoma cells, either alone or in combination with existing drugs.”
The results express Professor Zhang’s opinion that the protein drives melanoma proliferation independent of other factors including genetic mutations.
Findings of the study has caught the attention of other research institutes, including cell biologists at the Paris Descartes University, and future collaborations are highly possible.
The results were published in journal Cancer Research.