A new protein has been identified as having a role in activating the growth of cancerous cells, according to new research.
The immune system protein TRAF6 was found, by a team at the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, to be linked with the activation of Akt, which is seen in mutant form in various different types of cancers.
It was discovered that TRAF6 regulates the ubiquitionation process of Akt, itself a signalling protein associated with cell growth, which means it contributes to the development of cancer cells.
Dr Hui-Kuan Lin, an assistant professor at the facility, said: "We've found that TRAF6 is not just involved in the innate immune response, but plays a role in cell growth and carcinogenesis."
He commented that this may mean it could be a target for cancer treatment.
The report appeared in the August 28th issue of Science, the scientific news and research journal founded by Thomas Edison.