‘Gates of Heaven’ calcium channel drives oral cancer pain and growth

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An essential protein that acts as a gatekeeper for calcium entering cells promotes the growth of oral cancer and generates pain, according to a new study. Targeting this protein — the ORAI1 calcium channel — could provide a new approach to treating oral cancer, which causes persistent pain that worsens as it progresses. An essential protein that acts as a gatekeeper for calcium entering cells promotes the growth of oral cancer and generates pain, according to a new study published in led by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry.

“Our results show that the ORAI1 channel fuels the growth of oral cancer tumors and produces an abundance of molecules that, once secreted, interact with neurons resulting in an increased sensitivity to pain,” said Ga-Yeon Son, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Pathobiology at NYU College of Dentistry and the study’s first author.

ORAI calcium channels — named after the three sisters in Greek mythology who guarded the gates of heaven at Mount Olympus — play an important role controlling how much calcium enters cells. “Calcium entering cells is necessary for many good things, but too much calcium for a long time has the opposite effect.” headtopics.com

advertisement Less ORAI1, less cancer growth and pain ORAI1 They then examined human oral cancer cells and found that activating the ORAI1 calcium channel (but not other calcium channels) caused a large influx of calcium into cancer cells.

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