Pac-Man Like Protein That Eats Dead Cells Could Stop Cancer From Spreading?

First Posted: Sep 14, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

The researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK discovered a Pac-Man-like protein known as the Rac1 protein, which causes cells to eat their neighboring cells. This protein dispels them away and curtails the damaging inflammation that could lead to cancer.

The study, published in the journal Developmental Cell, was led by Dr. Nasreen Akhtar from the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at University of Sheffield and colleagues. The team examined the female breasts to fully comprehend how the organ diminish the dead cells and surplus milk when it is not needed anymore, according to Science Daily.

The researchers found that Rac1 protein is important for the secretion of milk and its exclusion in the drying-up period. In the study, the breast epithelia, which lines the mammary ducts that carry the milk towards the nipple when needed, use Rac1 to avoid damaging inflammatory phagocytes from the immune system by taking control over their job.

The live breast epithelia consume their deceasing neighbors and absorb all the secretions. This clears the ducts from old milk and dead cells. The phagocyte-like breast epithelia then died and afterwards elucidate by professional phagocytes from the immune system.

Dr. Akhtar explained that by doing the job themselves, the breast epithelia limit both the numbers and time of immune phagocyte infiltration which protects the tissue from becoming damaged. He further explained that without the Rac1, the dead cells and milk deluge the interlocking breast ducts causing them to bloat and triggering chronic inflammation. These bloated ducts then cause failure of regeneration and production of milk in the future pregnancy, as noted by NDTV.

The study indicates that in the breast one of its central roles is to inhibit the damaging inflammatory responses and without Rac1 these responses are heightened and prolonged within tissues, according to Dr. Akhtar. He then concluded that sustained inflammation is associated with cancer progression, the findings show that blocking Rac1 might not be a good idea.

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