Scientists in the United States are suggesting that they have found a way to immobilize a common protein that often gets in the way of chemotherapy treatment and reduces its impact on curing cancer in the human body.

Researchers at the Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital in Boston say that they discovered a process by which a small portion of the protein called MCL-1 could be exploited to make a molecular tool that had hindered its pro-survival action in the past. The prototype drug blocks the MCL-1 that help tumors survive the treatment.

Nature magazine quoted Dr. Loren Walensky, a pediatric oncologist and chemical biologist associated with the research team to say that this discovery could prove a crucial step towards developing an inhibitor of MCL-1 protein. This is a critical survival factor in a broad range of human cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma and poor prognosis breast cancer, she says.

The molecular mimics of these domains have shown promise in early clinical trials though these drugs block three or more BCL-2 family proteins, rather than homing in on one specific cancer-causing target. The Dana-Farber researchers also managed to analyze the three-dimensional structure MCL-1 docking mechanism and find out why it binds so specifically to its target.