Supercomputers allow examination of cancer chain in cell membrane

the ONA take:

Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School are using two supercomputers to run simulations designed to reveal clusters of a protein linked to cancer warp cell membranes. Nearly a third of of all cancers are linked to somatic, or post-conception, mutations in Ras proteins, heightening the importance of this for targeted therapy. The Ras gene, responsible for Ras protein coding, is the first gene identified as a potential cause of cancer in humans. Understanding of how Ras proteins cluster and interact with other proteins is limited, but scientists believe that Ras proteins mediate a chain of cell signals that can trigger uncontrollable cell reproduction, and, at times, cancer.

The study, published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, focused on protein clusters, or aggregates, and their effect on cell membrane remodeling. Ras has long been identified as a cancer causing agent but was thought to be "undruggable," but this type of research may lead to an effective targeted therapy and a way to halt the unregulated cell growth in cancers caused by defective Ras.

Supercomputers allow examination of cancer chain in cell membrane
Supercomputers allow examination of cancer chain in cell membrane
Supercomputer simulations reveal clusters of a protein linked to cancer warp cell membranes -- findings could help design new anticancer drugs. Researchers used XSEDE/TACC supercomputers Lonestar and Stampede to simulate molecular dynamics of Ras protein clusters at the cell membrane. Simulations give greater understanding of Ras protein role in cancer and provide models for further experimental tests.
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