Nav: Home

Researchers discover 'chromosome scanner' that protects against cancer

February 25, 2019

In a new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have identified one of the main mechanisms behind the repair of serious damage to the human DNA. A 'scanner' inside the cells decides whether or not so-called flawless DNA repair, which protects against cancer, is launched.

Damage to the human DNA can cause unstable genetic material and thus plays a main role in the development of cancer. Therefore, a lot of researchers are trying to learn from the cells' own protection against DNA mutations. Among other things, this is done by quickly and correctly repairing DNA damage and thus avoiding tumour development.

Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen have come a step closer to understanding the cells' repair process in a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology. For these serious damages, there are two basic repair systems, but only one of them is flawless. If this system is out of function, there is increased risk of developing cancer following from the DNA damage to which our cells are constantly exposed. We know from mutations in so-called BRCA genes that this causes hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

'We have discovered how the cell launches the flawless system for serious DNA damage repair and thus protects against cancer. This is done using a protein you could call a 'scanner', which scans the histones in the cell and on that basis launches the repair process', says the researcher behind the study, Professor Anja Groth from the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre.

3D-Printed Copy Rather than Crude Gluing


According to the researchers, the problem with the two repair systems is that one is much easier and faster for the cell to launch than the other, and therefore the former is used more often. However, it does not work as well as the latter. Here the two cut DNA strings are merely glued back together.

'You can imagine that the one repair system somewhat awkwardly tries to glue two DNA strings together, while the other system produces a 3D-printed copy resembling the DNA before damage completely. The first system produces far more errors than the latter, and therefore the latter provides far better protection against tumour development', Anja Groth explains.

The protein that acts like a scanner is called BARD1, and the researchers have known for a long time that it works like a so-called tumour suppressor. However, this is the first discovery of BARD1's scanning function, which tells the BRCA1 protein and thus the cell that a flawless repair system can be launched. If possible, it then launches the BRCA1 function that plays such a vital role in cancer protection.

Understanding the Repair Process Is Significant to the Development of Medicine


The flawless repair method is also referred to as a homologous recombination. For part of its lifetime the cell contains two identical DNA strings, as it is getting ready to split. This means that the cell actually holds the solution to its own damage.

'You can say that BARD1 tells the cell that the flawless system can be launched, because BARD determines whether there are signs that the cell contains two identical DNA strings. If so, the 'flawed' repair system is blocked, while the flawless system is launched', Anja Groth concludes.

In connection with this and other discoveries the researchers have founded the company Ankrin Therapeutics, which seeks to utilise DNA repair mechanisms to develop new targeted cancer treatment.
-end-
The study is funded by the Danish Cancer Society, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the ERC, the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the NEYE Foundation.

University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".