Changing the properties of DNA: scientists have a new way to fight cancer

  • Researchers have developed a cancer therapy that combines drugs to fix pathways in DNA and block cancer’s repair mechanisms.
  • The therapy could lead to the development of more effective breast cancer treatments, a disease roughly 250,000 more American women face every year.

Promising data has revealed a new treatment for breast cancer and leukemia. It works by attacking cancer cells’ ability to repair pathways (specifically, damaged pathways) in their DNA.

The treatment works by targeting the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase enzyme or PARP, which repairs pathways in DNA that tumors use to survive. Talazoparib, a PARP inhibitor, targets the tumor repairing enzyme, changing the properties of DNA in a way that helps it trap the repair enzyme.

Credit: Amy Dame CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Credit: Amy Dame CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

They tested the drug therapy on breast cancer and leukemia — cancers that depend on self-repairing mechanisms to grow mutated cells. Human breast cancer and leukemia cells, which were grown in mice, faced the combination drug therapy. Ultimately, this resulted in tumors half the size of what either drug could do on its own, the paper notes.

The researchers also found the drug combination increased the time that the repair enzyme was trapped at sites of DNA damage in cancer cells, extending the time from 30 minutes to three to six hours after treatment.


The team tested the therapy on cancer with the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA), an inheritable gene that appears to increase the risk of breast cancer. And lead research Stephen Baylin says their study could lead to the discovery of further treatments.

Source: Futurism



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