A compound from coralberry has promise for treating a form of eye cancer
Compounds from plants have already inspired many medicines, yet researchers are still discovering new applications for them. The small protein FR900359, or FR, is produced by coralberry (Ardisia crenata, pictured) as a defence against insect herbivores, but it could also help treat the most common type of eye cancer. Uveal melanoma is linked to mutations in genes encoding sections of G proteins, which cycle between inactive and active states in response to other signals, and control many metabolic pathways. The mutations essentially keep the G proteins constantly active, causing cells to multiply uncontrollably. FR can bind to these G protein sections to keep them inactive, even in their mutated forms, and tests on cultured cells and tumours in mice suggest this can stop the growth of melanomas. While a promising result, G proteins have many important roles, so precisely targeting cancerous cells would be critical for any treatments involving FR.
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