So far unknown protein function discovered: With breast milk component against cancer
Breast milk is more than just food: A few years ago, British researchers found that the lactoferrin protein from breast milk can help against antibiotic-resistant germs. And now Austrian scientists have discovered another previously unknown function of this protein.
Breast milk is the best food for babies
Breastfeeding is considered the best nutrition for an infant, because breast milk contains an optimal composition of all the nutrients that the child needs in the first months of life. According to the study, breastfeeding can also protect against allergies, have a positive effect on the development of the child's immune system and reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Breast milk also contains an ingredient that could help treat the most serious diseases, as scientists from Austria have now found out.
With natural milk protein against cancer and infections
Austrian researchers have discovered a previously unknown function of the protein lactoferrin, which is mainly contained in breast milk.
As the scientists at the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology at MedUni Vienna under the direction of Hannes Stockinger found, lactoferrin inhibits certain processes in the dissolution of blood clots and in cell migration (migration).
"This discovery could be useful for the development of new therapeutics for cancer, but also for the treatment of certain bacterial infections," said Stockinger, according to a message.
The study results were recently published in the journal "Journal of Biological Chemistry".
One of the most important enzymes in the human body
The background: The enzyme plasminogen is one of the most important enzymes in the human body, which is significantly involved in the breakdown of proteins.
It is crucial for the dissolution of blood clots, but is also involved in a variety of other physiological processes, such as the development of tissues and organs, the immune response or wound healing.
In order to fulfill its role, the inactive form of the plasminogen molecule must be brought into the active form "plasmin". If this process is disturbed, it can lead to many pathological processes in the body, says study leader Vladimir Leksa from the MedUni Vienna.
“Malignant tumor cells or some virulent types of bacteria, such as Borrelia, bind and activate human plasminogen to penetrate tissue barriers. Accordingly, the plasminogen system is a convenient target for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for cancer and inflammatory diseases. ”
Prevent bacteria from entering
The new study, published in collaboration with the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, now clearly shows that the human milk protein lactoferrin blocks plasminogen activation by binding directly to human plasminogen.
This can both block tumor cell invasion and prevent the ingress of bacteria such as Borrelia. The main source of human lactoferrin is human (mother) milk, but it is also found in serum, tears, saliva or urine.
“Our results not only help understand many of the antimicrobial, antitumoral, and immunomodulatory activities attributed to lactoferrin, but also suggest that lactoferrin is a natural tool for therapeutic
Interventions can be useful to prevent both invasive malignant cells and virulent bacteria from entering hosts, ”summarizes Stockinger. (ad)