We know that epidermal growth factor (EGF), discovered in 1986, is a polypeptide vital to cell differentiation and proliferation. Work that has just been published, however, uncovered the potential of EGF towards a new range of anti-cancer agents.
Scientists at Heidelberg University in Germany demonstrated that EGF accelerates mitosis, i.e. cell division. During mitosis, the genetic information from the parent cell is passed to daughter cells, aided by centrosome dissolution. Cancer cells divide more often than healthy ones, and are targeted by cancer agents which kill them. Together with scientists from the University of Leicester, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the German Cancer Research Center, Prof. Schiebel and his team have demonstrated that centrosomes of cells stimulated by the EGF split earlier than cells with less EGF stimulation.
The study found that cells stimulated by EGF bypass the function of Eg5, a motor protein that orchestrates cellular division during mitosis, and can proceed with mitosis without Eg5. This means that substances like monastrol or STLC lose their effectiveness to kill cancer cells if they have high EGF regulation.
The study was published in the journal Developmental Cell this month.
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