News of the WeekCell Biology

New Leads to Cancer, Arthritis Therapies

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Science  04 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5420, pp. 1600-1601
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5420.1600b

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On page 1667, researchers describe for the first time the complete three-dimensional structure of a metalloproteinase, an essential enzyme that chews up proteins. This enzyme, known as MMP-2 (for matrix metalloproteinase 2), is usually found only in the developing embryo and healing wounds. But it can also help cancer cells spread in the body and allow growing tumors to build new blood supply lines, and so researchers have been looking for drugs that inhibit its action--a quest that the new structure may aid. And on page 1664, another team reports the cloning of a new metalloproteinase that seems to play a key role in the development of arthritis by breaking down a cartilage protein called aggrecan; it may thus be a target for antiarthritis drugs.