Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have designed a new protein that can effectively kill cells linked to the development. This protein can also stop progression of cancer and a number of other diseases.
ProAgio, which is created from a human protein, targets the cell surface receptor integrin v3 at a novel site that has not been targeted by other scientists.
The researchers from Georgia State University in the US found ProAgio induces apoptosis, or programmed cell death, of cells that express integrin v3.
This integrin has been a focus for drug development because abnormal expression of v3 and is linked to the development and progression of a number of diseases.
This integrin is expressed in the cells of new blood vessels, activated macrophages (immune cells that are involved in the first defence against infection), some cancer cells that metastasise or spread to other parts of the body and bone cells that are critical to maintenance and repair.
"This integrin pair, v3, is not expressed in high levels in normal tissue," said Zhi-Ren Liu, lead author of the study and professor at Georgia State.
"In most cases, it's associated with a number of different pathological conditions. Therefore, it constitutes a very good target for multiple disease treatment," said Liu. Integrins are cell surface receptors that play a critical role in cells that attach to the extracellular matrix.
They are composed of different combinations and subunits. Different types of cells have different pairs of subunits. Integrin v3 has been studied by many scientists as a potential target for drugs that prevent inflammation and the growth of new blood vessels.
"We designed a protein that binds to a different site. Once the protein binds to the site, it directly triggers cell death. When we're able to kill pathological cells, then we're able to kill the disease," Lui said.