Researchers demonstrate why DNA breaks down in cancer cells

Damage to normal DNA is a hallmark of cancer cells. Although it had previously been known that damage to normal cells is caused by stress to their DNA replication when cancerous cells invade, the molecular basis for this remained unclear.

Now, for the first time, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have shown that in early cancer development, cells suffer from insufficient building blocks to support normal DNA replication. It is possible to halt this by externally supplying the "building blocks," resulting in reduced and significant lower potential of the cells to develop cancerous features. Thus, hopefully, this could one day provide protection against cancer development.

In laboratory work carried out at the Hebrew University, Prof. Batsheva Kerem of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and her Ph.D. student Assaf C. Bester demonstrated that abnormal activation of cellular proliferation driving many different cancer types leads to insufficient levels of the DNA building blocks (nucleotides) required to support normal .

Then, using laboratory cultures in which cancerous cells were introduced, the researchers were able to show that through external supply of those DNA it is possible to reactivate normal DNA synthesis, thus negating the damage caused by the and the cancerous potential. This is the first time that this has been demonstrated anywhere.

This work, documented in a new article in the journal Cell, raises the possibility, say the Hebrew University researchers, for developing new approaches for protection against precancerous development, even possibly creating a kind of treatment to decrease DNA breakage.

Related Stories

Real-time observation of the DNA-repair mechanism

May 22, 2008

For the first time, researchers at Delft University of Technology have witnessed the spontaneous repair of damage to DNA molecules in real time. They observed this at the level of a single DNA molecule. Insight into this ...

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bsardi
not rated yet May 03, 2011
A person can purchase nucleotides from the health store, labelled as RNA or nucleotides.