Scientists have made a major discovery about how cells repair broken strands of DNA that could have huge implications for the treatment of cancer.
Their study, published in Nature today (Wednesday), uncovered a brand new protein complex in cells that shields broken DNA ends and controls the way in which it is repaired.
The new complex pushes cancer cells to use a particular type of DNA repair system that is vulnerable to targeting by exciting new drugs called PARP inhibitors or platinum-based chemotherapies.
The landmark study was a result of collaboration between the University of Toronto, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Bern.
The discovery could lead to tests to direct and monitor treatment for patients with mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 or other DNA repair genes, treated with platinum-based chemotherapies or exciting new drugs called PARP inhibitors.
The newly named ‘Shieldin’ complex was also found to be important for generating the right type of antibodies during an immune response, and mutations could lead to immune-related disorders.
The study was funded by a variety of organisations worldwide, including Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Cancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Now in the UK.
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