CANBERRA, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- A team of Australian on Monday discovered a protein that can kill rogue cancer-causing cells, and which they hope will lead to new drugs targeting cancer and other immune system diseases.
The discovery of the mechanism, published on Monday in the science journal Nature, described the protein, perforin, as the body's assassin against rogue cells, punching holes into the cells to kill them.
According to Professor James Whisstock, Australian Research Council Federation fellow at Monash University, the work is a very important discovery in the field of immunology.
"Perforin is our body's weapon of cleansing and death," Professor Whisstock told Australia Associated Press on Monday.
"It breaks into cells that have been hijacked by viruses or turned into cancer cells and allows toxic enzymes in, to destroy the cell from within.
"Without it our immune system can't destroy these cells. Now we know how it works, we can start to fine tune it to fight cancer, malaria and diabetes."
Now after collaboration on the ten-year study, Professor Whisstock and his team at Monash University, together with a team at the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne of Australia and scientists at Birkbeck College in London of Britain, have discovered just how that mechanism works.
The researchers were now investigating ways to boost perforin for more effective cancer protection, and therapy for acute diseases such as cerebral malaria.
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