Aligarh Muslim University professor leads cancer prevention breakthrough discovery

Dr Siddique and his team have identified the single RNA-binding protein that accumulates multiple cancer-causing proteins
Picture Courtesy: Unsplash
Picture Courtesy: Unsplash

In a significant development in cancer prevention, a prevalent mechanism has been uncovered that triggers the disruption of a specific Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) binding protein, MSI-2, binding to Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) of cancer-causing proteins. This discovery leads to a significant decrease in the synthesis and build-up of such proteins, thereby reducing the incidence of (Hepatitis C virus) HCV infection and proliferation, as per a report by IANS.

Hifzur Rahman Siddique of the Department of Zoology, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in coordination with Dr Keigo Machida, University of South California have discovered the mechanism.

The single RNA binding protein (named MSI-2) helps to accumulate multiple cancer-causing proteins in patients and helps to proliferate Hepatitis C Virus to promote liver cancer.

The Discovery

Siddique and the team who have identified this protein by analysing the liver tissues of 374 liver cancer patients, told IANS, "As we know, alcohol and cholesterol-rich high-fat diet and hepatitis infection promotes cancer initiation, but the exact molecular mechanism is unknown. In this research work, we have discovered that MSI-2 protein helps to accumulate multiple cancer-causing proteins and supports HCV proliferation to aggravate the disease."

Dr Siddique said that Liver hyperplasia is also reduced in the animal model predisposed to viral infection fed with alcohol mixed cholesterol-rich high-fat diet.

This is a very exciting discovery and could serve as a potential therapeutic target for the drug design and give direction to the management strategy for this deadly disease, he added.

On the research publication, he said that "The study has been recently published in Cell Death Discovery (April 2023, available at

Earlier Finds

Dr Siddique and his team had earlier discovered the molecular pathway that promotes the abnormal division of cancer stem cells that are responsible for cancer therapy failure and Cancer reappearance/recurrence. Their study was then published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications 11 (2020).

He said that the liver is considered the powerhouse of the body and due to the change in lifestyle, chronic alcohol consumption, high-fat diet, and hepatitis virus infection, the incidence of liver cancer is increasing fast.

More than 350 million people are currently infected with hepatitis viruses, out of which 70 million are infected with Hepatitis C. It is estimated that approximately 40 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 6-12 million people with Hepatitis C. The situation worsens when Hepatitis infection occurs in an alcoholic person.

Significance of the Find

He told IANS that the discovery is significant in the treatment of liver cancer as blocking the identified protein has an immense effect on liver cancer in the animal model and also stops the accumulation of the number of human cancer-causing proteins, the proliferation of hepatitis viruses and improving recovery.

Siddique recently got a patent for his herbal formulation to prevent liver cancer and is expecting some extramural grants from the Government of India for further clinical research.

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