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Our scientists modify a human protein to be applied in a therapy

Scientists from the Wrocław University are working to modify one of human proteins – FGF1. It could be applied to heal hard-to-heal wounds, artery diseases or the diabetes. In the future the protein could be a carrier of medicines into the cancerous cells.

Scientists from the Department of the Protein Engineering of the Wrocław University Faculty of the Biotechnology are examining proteins – the most important macro-particles in a human organism. They modify them by methods of the genetic engineering in order to use them to reach treatment goals.

One of research objects is the FGF1 protein – a growth factor affecting many types of cells and resulting, among others, in their division.

“FGF1 accelerates healing of wounds and bone knitting, it also takes part in growth of new blood vessels; it reduces the glucose level in the blood. Moreover, it can also be applied as a carrier of medicines into cancerous cells” – says to PAP dr hab. Małgorzata Zakrzewska from the Department of the Protein Engineering of the Wrocław University Faculty of the Biotechnology.

FGF1 is a protein produced in many types of tissues, among others, in cells of the smooth muscles and the epithelium, cells of the liver, the connective tissue, macrophages and nerves. It stimulates, among others, the DNA synthesis and cultivation of cells.

Due to activation of receptors at the area of the cells as well as its inter-cellular activity, the FGF1 promotes survival of cells, it protects them from unfavorable conditions and it operates as a factor preventing the programmed cell death (apoptosis).

Examining the sequence of the protein and its structure, the scientists design such mutations and modifications, which enhance or change properties of this particle.

“Applying the re-combined DNA technology we are able to produce this protein in bacterial cells. Sequence of the DNA of a human protein is cloned into a special genetic structure which, in turn, is entered into the Escherichia coli bacteria. In this way, in the laboratory we obtain large quantities of the protein which is refined later” – says dr Zakrzewska.

Examining properties of a pure protein the scientists analyze whether its structure is proper and whether it binds with receptors at the area of the cells properly. In the course of their researches they use human cells growing in the laboratory.

“We examine how particular variants of the protein affect the cell division, the cultivation process and migration of both, healthy tissues and compromised cancerous cells. We also control where the protein FGF1 is localized in the cells and how effectively it gets into inside of a cell, as well as what processes it activates” – explains the scientist.

Acc. to the scientists, because of its properties and its regeneration potential, the FGF1 protein is more and more frequently perceived as a potential therapeutic measure, which could be extensively applied in the medicine.

Since the protein in question plays a role at the process of healing and repair of tissues, it can also be applied to heal difficult bone fractures or damages to nerves. It also assures protective effect in case of cells exposed to the gamma radiation. It is also characterized by angiogenic properties which, in the opinion of the scientists, can be applied in order to treat cardiovascular system diseases.

Wrocław scientists are also examining new properties of the FGF1 discovered in the recent years. It concerns properties related with prevention of death of cells or anti-diabetic properties.

Increased expression of FGF receptors in case of varied types of cancers, e.g. the breast cancer, the bladder cancer, the prostate cancer or the lungs cancer, in opinion of dr Zakrzewska makes that the protein in question may play the role of a medium directing selected medicine into cancerous cells.

“We are modifying the FGF1 protein in such a way to get an effective medicine in the future. We are developing variants which operate longer and they are less susceptible to the degradation. We acquire a protein which could be applied to heal hard-to-heal wounds, ischemic disorders, damages to tissues or the diabetes. It could also be used as a carrier of cytostatic medicines into the cancerous cells” summed up dr hab. Małgorzata Zakrzewska.

PAP – Science in Poland, Kamil Szubański


Published by: Aleksandra Draus

23 Oct 2018

last modification: 23 Oct 2018