Researchers Discover Protein Complex That Promotes Cancer Growth Members News July 1, 2021 A discovery by a team of researchers, led by a Geisinger professor, could yield a potential new treatment for breast cancer. In a study published this month in Cell Reports, the team used small molecules known as peptides to disrupt a complex of two proteins, RBM39 and MLL1, that is found in breast cancer cells but not in normal cells. The research team discovered that the abnormal interaction between RBM39 and MLL1 is required for breast cancer cells to multiply and survive. The team developed non-toxic peptides that prevent these proteins from interacting in breast cancer cells, disrupting their growth and survival.“Because these proteins do not interact in normal cells, the peptides we developed are not harmful to them,” said Anne M. Moon, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Geisinger’s Department of Molecular and Functional Genomics and senior author of the study. “This offers promise for future non-toxic cancer treatment.” Further laboratory tests are needed before the treatment could be trialed in humans, Moon said. Geisinger’s cancer research also includes the MyCode Community Health Initiative, which returns clinically relevant results to participants at increased genetic risk for cancer, including breast, ovarian and colon cancers. The National Cancer Institute recently awarded Geisinger a 5-year, $3.6 million contract to study the role of genetic variation in cancer through the MyCode initiative. Geisinger has an exciting research environment with more than 50 full-time research faculty and more than 30 clinician scientists. Areas of expertise include precision health, genomics, informatics, data science, implementation science, outcomes research, health services research, bioethics and clinical trials.