New cellular imaging paves way for cancer treatment

Posted on 9 June 2017

Researchers in the Department of Chemistry and the University of Leiden have pioneered a technique which uses florescent imaging to track the actions of key enzymes in cancer, genetic disorders and kidney disease.

Scientists hope this new development will aid drug design for new anti-cancer, inflammation and kidney disease treatments.

It will also provide diagnostic tools for disease identification and allow medical professionals to measure the effectiveness of drug treatment regimes in an easy laboratory manner.

Studying heparanase - a key enzyme in the development and metastasis of human cancers – scientists unveiled new fluorescent imaging agents that detect enzyme activity in healthy and diseased tissues.

The research, published this week in Nature Chemical Biology, builds upon previous work revealing heparanase’s three-dimensional structure.

Gideon Davies, Professor of Structural Enzymology and Carbohydrate Chemistry, said: “Heparanase is a key human enzyme. Its dysregulation is involved in inherited genetic disorders, and it is also a major anti-cancer target and increasingly implicated in kidney disease.

“Our work allows us to probe the activity of heparanase in human samples – allowing early disease identification and a direct measure of the success of drugs in humans.

“This work is a great example of the power of EU collaboration and science funding from the European Research Council.”

Read the full story here.

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