Feb 10, 2012Science and Technology
New understanding of DNA repair could lead to cancer therapy

A research group at the University of Alberta is hoping its latest discovery could one day be used to develop new therapies that target certain types of cancers. The discovery has shed light on what happens in cells when DNA is damaged. They solved the structure of a DNA repair enzyme called polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase, or PNKP. This allows them to see what is happening when this enzyme is repairing DNA. In normal cells damaged DNA can lead to the breakdown of chromosomes and, ultimately, cancers. On the other hand, damaging DNA in cancer cells is a useful way to kill them. A long-term goal of this research is to find ways to specifically block PNKP from doing its repair work in cancer cells as a possible new cancer therapy.

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