A research study published in the journal ‘Nature’ on the 31st of October discloses the mechanism by which a protein known as perforin can act as an assassin of the rogue cells within our body.
Prof James Whisstock attached with the Monash University led the team of researchers from London and Melbourne. He stated that perforin acted as the weapon of our body for cleansing itself.
The mechanism is initiated when the protein finds its way into those cells that have been infected by the viruses or have turned carcinogenic. Toxic enzymes are then unleashed within the cells which kills them off. Our immune system would have been woefully inadequate without perforin, he continued. He also stated that the understanding of its mechanism will now help the researchers and doctors to fine tune it properly in order to fight against life threatening diseases like cancer, diabetes and malaria.
The researchers had collaborated together for a period of ten years for uncovering the molecular structure and primary functions of perforin, the protein in question. The structure of the molecule was finally revealed by using the Australian Synchrotron along with the extremely powerful electron microscope at the Birkbeck College, London.
The study results show that parts of the molecular structure of perforin is strikingly similar to the toxins produced by anthrax, listeria and streptococci bacilli.
The chief of the Cancer Immunology Program at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne states that the results obtained from mouse studies point to the fact that a defective perforin might lead to an increase of malignancy particularly blood related deformities like leukemia.
Source: Public Release by Science in Public on 31st October 2010