In healthy cells, MYC plays an important role in how our cells divide and grow. When a cell needs to divide, it starts producing the MYC molecule. The problem arises when the cell can’t switch off production of MYC, sending constant signals telling the cell to multiply. This can lead to uncontrolled cell division and the development of cancer.
In 1991, researchers showed that the MYC molecule was something called a transcription factor. Transcription factors act as molecular switches that can turn on genes that also stimulate cell division, causing a snowball effect of more and more cellular growth and division. This is what makes MYC such a great potential target for cancer treatment. If we can somehow block MYC and stop it from initiating cell division, it would put a brake on the runaway growth and division of cancer cells.
Over time, researchers identified more and more cancers that seemed to be driven by cancer cells producing high levels of MYC, cementing its status as a highly desirable treatment target for a wide range of cancers.