Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute recently deciphered the structure of the CC chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7), a signaling protein.
Cancer cells use CCR7 to guide themselves into the lymphatic system, spreading cancer throughout the body. The resulting secondary tumors, called metastases, are responsible for most cancer deaths.
This new understanding of CCR7 is a break through that forms a foundation for developing drugs that could lead to treatments to reduce the spread of certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer, the second most common malignant tumor worldwide.
Based on this work, scientists at the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche found a number of compounds in their database that might block the CCR7 signaling protein and that could be used to develop new drugs to reduce the spread of cancer.
The Paul Scherrer Institute is Switzerland’s largest research institute, with 2,100 staff and an annual budget of around CHF407 million, according to the Institute’s website.
Discovery article published in Cell (in English)