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Testing ISG-15 human defence protein key to cancer treatment

N Madhav  |  Hyderabad 

An Indian-origin scientist, as part of her research, revealed that identifying and measuring the concentration of a particular defence protein would help treat tumours associated with all sorts of human cancers.

LSU Health Sciences Centre New Orleans associate professor Shyamal Desai said the influence of pathogen on the ISG15 was the 'root cause' of all cancers.

According to Desai, the cancer cells (pathogen) are taking over the normal activity of the defence protein and is destroying its characteristic functioning in the human body. "We have identified that the tumour cells suppress ISG15," she added.

In many cancer treatments, patients do not respond to drugs, which comes to knowledge after the treatment has begun. However, under the test for ISG-15, doctors get to identify the presence of and their concentration levels in the human tissues. "Once the is detected, doctors can avoid going for surgeries and instead administer drugs to patients," Desai said.

While most of her research has been centered on the study in breast cancer, Desai pointed out the observation to be common for all cancer tumours. Desai was in Hyderabad last month to attend the three-day Global Cancer Conference and Medicare Summit.

ISG-15 shares several common properties with other ubiquitin-like molecules (UBLs), but its activity is tightly regulated by specific signaling pathways that have a role in innate immunity, and ISG15 inhibits this pathway. The drug treatment aims at restoring the normal functioning of ISG-15, which is defence wall against the incoming pathogens.

The cost of the clinical test for ISG-15, according to Desai, comes to around $500 per patient and there is enough headroom for bringing the cost down if more people get tested. She said the protein was detected through antibodies.

Human clinical trials in China have confirmed the activity of ISG-15 and the influence of pathogens on it, Desai said, adding that she was keen to try the test procedure with pharma companies in India.

First Published: Thu, October 02 2014. 20:42 IST