Toronto, April 23: Researchers at Simon Fraser University have concluded that cholesterol may have a few good qualities like slowing or halting cancer cell growth, after all the bad publicity it has received for its role in heart disease or obesity.
They arrived at this conclusion while trying to understand how cholesterol moves around inside cells in the fat’s journey to cell surfaces where it reinforces their outer membrane.
They described how cholesterol-binding proteins called ORPs may control cancer cell growth, the Journal of Biological Chemistry reports.
“The assumption was that ORPs bind and transport cholesterol inside cells in a similar fashion to how lipoproteins bind and move around the fat outside cells through the blood stream,” explains Chris Beh, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry from Simon Fraser, who co-authored this paper, according to a Simon Fraser statement.
Beh and colleagues noted that genetic changes engineered by them block the ability of ORPs to bind cholesterol but don’t stop ORPs from functioning. In fact, these altered ORPs work better and activate other regulator proteins, which in turn trigger a variety of cellular processes that stimulate cell growth.
“First, cancer cells require ORPs to survive,” explains Beh. “Second, other scientists have previously shown that a new class of natural compounds that look like steroids or cholesterol can kill a broad spectrum of different cancer cells.”