BCM Logo Cancer cells apparently generate oxidative stress as they grow and attack tissues throughout the body. Experts from the Baylor College of Medicine claim that high levels of the protein thioredoxin-like 2 protect cancer cells from the oxidative stress. This protein seems to be essential for normal growth in developmental stages.

At the time of the research, scientists focused on analyzing the presence of thioredoxin-like 2 in human breast cancer cells. On excluding the protein from cancer cells, levels of oxidative stress known as reactive oxygen species or ROS possibly heightened and a crucial signaling activity NF-kB declined. The outcome was that cells presumably died growing and invading. Cancer cells may keep oxidative stress at a level that is toxic to normal cells but can be tolerated by them. Hence cancer cells are probably able to withstand anti-cancer drugs.

Thioredoxin-like 2 also known as glutaredoxin 3 seems to be highly expressed in cancer cells lines and can be a potential target of future drug development. Dr. Ning-Hui Cheng, an instructor at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital, and colleagues assume that the protein plays an important role in the spread of cancer or metastasis. When mice were bred to lack this protein they died before birth. Therefore, thioredoxin-like 2 is apparently vital for normal growth in developmental stages.

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.