First snapshots of cancer protein B-Raf illuminate basic biology, and can impact drug design for pediatric low grade glioma brain tumor patients.

Researchers at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, led by Michael J. Eck, professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, have been able to capture high-resolution 3D images of the well-known cancer driver, B-Raf, in its inactive or “off” state and in several active or “on” positions. These findings clarify how B-Raf functions normally in the body as well as what happens when mutations alter its shape and lead to cancer. Says Eck, “The structure gives us ideas about new approaches for drug discovery”. This work is expected to help researchers develop safer, more effective cancer drugs for kids battling Pediatric Low Grade Glioma brain tumors, many of which are driven by dysfunctional B-Raf.

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This ongoing work is supported by the PLGA Fund at Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and The National Institutes of Health.