Copper reveals new points of attack – healing practice

Why copper may become important in the fight against cancer

In the following situations cancer cells In order to grow and spread in the human body, they need certain Proteinsdie an copper tie. A Swedish research team has now been able to show what new potential this aspect has attack points in the fight against Cancer published.

professionals from Swedish Research Council present the results of a recent study showing how cancer-relevant proteins bind copper and how these proteins interact with other proteins. The discovered mechanism could have locked the door new approaches to cancer treatment open. The work was recently presented in the renowned journal “PNAS”.

Copper accumulates in cancer cells

People need a small amount of copper in the body to make sure vital biological processes to be able to process. As previous studies have shown, copper accumulates mainly in tumor cells. This led to the assumption that cancer cells need more metal than healthy cells.

According to the working group, higher levels of copper are also associated with increased activity of proteins that bind to copper. “These proteins are therefore very important for understanding the development of cancer”stresses the professor of biochemistry Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

A deeper understanding of such proteins and their interactions could lead to new approaches to cancer treatment, she said.

What makes cancer deadly

In most cases, people die of cancer not because they have a single tumor, but because metastases forms, i.e. daughter tumors that spread throughout the body.

Some proteins promote the formation of metastases

It is already known from previous research that the so-called protein Memo1 participates in the formation of metastases. Tests with breast cancer cells showed that the ability to form metastases is reduced when the production of Memo1 is inhibited by inactivating the key gene for it.

In the current work, the researchers investigated the connection between Memo1 and copper in more detail. They found that the protein binds copper, but only copper reduced form of copper.

Memo1 protects cancer cells from copper ions

This particular form copper ions is most commonly found in living cells. Ions are a double-edged sword because they are needed for important biological processes on the one hand, but also on the other. toxic redox reactions which can damage or even kill cells.

However, when the Memo1 protein binds to copper, such cell-damaging responses are suppressed. Tumor cells seem to use this to protect themselves from the harmful effects of copper ions.

“We believe that by binding copper when needed, Memo1 protects cancer cells so they can live and spread.”confirms Professor Wittung-Stafshede.

Cancer protein binds to copper transporters

The team also made a second important discovery. Memo1 can connect to the so-called complex Atox1 handcuff This is one copper transporter in human cells.

Previous research has shown that copper and Atox1 are crit spread breast cancer cells and form metastases. Taken together, these findings suggest that copper and copper-binding proteins are important targets future cancer research even for new medical procedures.

In a follow-up study, the working group wants to find out where binding site for copper ions on the Memo1 protein. In addition, how the presence and absence of copper affects should be further investigated development of cancers affects

“As we expand our basic understanding of the role of copper-binding proteins in cancer cells, we also open the door to new treatment options.”summarizes Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.

Cancer cells are dependent on iron

This is the second major study this year linking metals to cancer cells. In March 2022, scientists from University of Californiathat many cancer cells on Eisen they are dependent.

According to the researchers, this “addiction” to iron could be used for innovative therapies in which Targeted destruction of cancer cells without affecting healthy cells (see: Cancer: a weak point discovered – cancer cells are dependent on iron). (vb)

Author and source information

This text meets the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been reviewed by health professionals.


Postgraduate editor (ZF) Volker BlaĊĦek


  • Swedish Research Council: Copper as a clue in the fight against cancer (published: 11.10.2022),
  • Xiaolu Zhang, Gulshan R. Walke, Pernilla Wittung Stafshede et al: Memo1 binds reduced copper ions, interacts with the copper chaperone Atox1, and protects against copper-mediated redox activity in vitro; in: PNAS (2022),
  • Honglin Jiang, Ryan K. Muir, Ryan L. Gonciarz, et al.: Drug-activatable ferric iron conjugate achieves potent MAPK blockade in KRAS-driven tumors; in: Journal of Experimental Medicine (2022),

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a doctor’s visit.

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