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Has science found a way to get villainous clumps of protein to cure instead of kill? Possibly, say European researchers whose early-stage findings might spur a new class of cancer therapeutics.

The team created an artificial protein containing amyloids — sequences that, under the right conditions, cause proteins to clump together. Those clumps are seen in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The researchers wanted to know: Could they create synthetic versions of those tangles and use them to halt the flow of blood to a tumor — and thus stop the cancer in its tracks?


Several drugs already work on that principle; they’re called angiogenesis inhibitors and have been approved to treat a variety of cancers, including glioblastoma. The type of synthetic amyloid the European team created is still years from patient use, but study author Joost Schymkowitz of the University of Leuven thinks there’s potential.

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