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Antitumor protein can sometimes promote cancer

Berries in a heart shape

A protein that plays a key role in protecting the body against cancer also appears to have the opposite effect in some cancers.

New research from the University of California in San Diego demonstrates instances in which the tumor suppressor protein p53 can boost cancer metabolism.

In a paper on the study, which now appears in the journal Cancer Cell, the authors write that the “findings are instrumental for cancer drug discovery” that aims to restore or activate p53.

“The widely accepted idea,” says corresponding study author Yang Xu, a professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the university, “is that p53 suppresses cancer, but in our study, we would argue against that.”

“In some cancers it would have the opposite effect by promoting cancer,” he adds.

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