Scientists have discovered that a protein connected to autism also plays a role in the spread of tumors. Potentially making people with the developmental disorder more likely to develop cancer.
However, the connection between the two hasn’t yet been established, despite the presence of link.
SHANK’s relation to breast cancer:
The researchers who found the protein are from the University of Turku in Finland, they issued a statement saying that the protein in question, which is called SHANK, “prevents the spread of breast cancer cells to the surrounding tissue.”
However, this is not the first time SHANK has been studied. Previous studies have suggested that genes causing its mutation or absence are connected to autism.
According to a study in Nature Cell Biology, the same mutations to SHANK found in people on the autism spectrum stop the protein from working against breast cancer cells as well. The protein should prevent the cells from “sticking” and thus multiplying, but if mutated, the protein doesn’t perform this task.
The Finnish researchers said this shows the importance of research to help scientists understand multiple human diseases.
The next step in the research:
Finding out SHANK affects will be the next step of the research.
The genetic mutations to the protein lead to the developmental disorder autism, which is characterized by symptoms such as difficulty with social interaction, because they hinder communication between brain cells that are essential for tasks like memory and learning, as shown by previous research. This disrupted communication is believed to be the main reason behind the disorder’s symptoms.