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Ras signaling, or Ras GTPase, is involved in transmitting signals within cells (cellular signal transduction). When Ras is ‘switched on’ by incoming signals, it subsequently switches on other proteins, which ultimately turn on genes involved in cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Mutations in Ras genes can lead to the production of permanently activated Ras proteins, which can cause unintended and overactive signaling inside the cell, even in the absence of incoming signals.

Because these signals result in cell growth and division, overactive Ras signaling can ultimately lead to cancer. The three Ras genes in humans (HRAS, KRAS, and NRAS) are the most common oncogenes in human cancer; mutations that permanently activate Ras are found in 20 to 25% of all human tumors and up to 90% in certain types of cancer (e.g., pancreatic cancer). For this reason, Ras inhibitors are being studied as a treatment for cancer and other diseases with Ras overexpression.

“Intense terahertz pulses inhibit Ras signaling and other cancer-associated signaling pathways in human skin tissue models.

The Ras signaling pathway, in particular the canonical RAS–RAF–MEK–ERK axis, is one of the most well-characterized signaling cascades in molecular biology.

The THz-downregulation of the KRAS oncogene, associated signaling genes, and subsequent prediction of inhibition of Ras signaling activity indicates that intense THz pulses may find potential therapeutic application for some cancers, with the goal of targeted inhibition of pro-mitotic signaling in diseased tissue.

These observations suggest a potential therapeutic mechanism of intense THz pulses.”

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