Now that scientists understand the precise role of Bub 1 in normal cell division, as well as what goes wrong when the gene is missing, they plan to test their theory on cancer cells.
“Unlike some other genes that become mutated in cancer cells, the Bub 1 gene appears normal indicating that it behaves in exactly the same way in cancer cells as it does in healthy cells.
“If this is the case, then we can be confident that switching it off will stop cancer cells proliferating too. And while our normal cells don’t divide that often, cancer cells divide more frequently, so hopefully by targeting Bub1 we will selectively kill cancer cells.”
Equally exciting, says Dr Taylor, is the fact that drugs are already being developed that are able to block the actions of Bub 1-type enzymes, known as ‘protein kinases’; such kinase blockers or ‘inhibitors’ are already providing a whole new approach to tackling cancer and Bub1 inhibitors may be another weapon in the oncologist’s arsenal.