Scientist studies DNA repair; hopes to improve breast cancer treatment

January 16, 2013 by Elizabeth K. Gardner

(Medical Xpress)—A Purdue University scientist is studying the way cells repair damaged DNA in the hopes of making cancer cells more susceptible to treatment and normal tissue better able to withstand it.

The National Institutes of Health recognized Pierre-Alexandre Vidi and his research with a Howard Temin Pathway to Independence Award in Cancer for highly promising postdoctoral research scientists. This is the first time a has received the award while at Purdue. The issued the award to 60 researchers in the United States in 2012.

Vidi uses a 3-D cell culture to reproduce and breast cancers with the architecture they would have within the human body. He then studies how cells' organization and interactions influence the process of DNA repair.

"Our ultimate goal is to improve cancer treatment and the quality of life of cancer patients," Vidi said. "We want to learn how to make cancer cells less able to repair themselves after chemotherapy or . This could reduce treatment doses - and the debilitating side effects of those treatments - the patients must endure."

A better understanding of what influences DNA repair could also lead to strategies to boost DNA repair in normal cells and prevent cancer initiation, he said.

Vidi's findings suggest that influences the organization of the and nuclear processes such as DNA repair. He will use the grant to further investigate the underlying mechanisms and how the organization of normal and influences the flow of information that leads to DNA repair.

Vidi's research approach differs from most other cancer researchers due to the inclusion of healthy in parallel to cancers in his studies. He credits his mentor, Sophie Lelièvre, as a leader of this approach. Lelièvre is an associate professor of basic medical sciences in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine and associate director of discovery groups in the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.

"Her laboratory is famous for approaching cancer research by first understanding normal tissue behavior," Vidi said. "Dr. Lelièvre's group also is one of the few in the world able to reproduce the complex organization of cells that line the mammary ducts and create 3-D cell culture models."

Vidi's Pathway to Independence Award comes through the National Cancer Institute at the NIH. The competitive award was created in 2007 and provides five years of support comprising two years of mentored support as a postdoctoral fellow followed by three years of support as an independent researcher. In addition to Lelièvre, Vidi's mentors include Joseph Irudayaraj from Purdue's School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Tom Misteli from the National Cancer Institute.

"Pierre's training and the mentors he has sought bridge expertise in cancer biology and in biophysical technologies that are the future of this field," said Lelièvre, who also leads the International and Nutrition Project. "He shows tremendous promise as a scientist and cancer researcher and carries the torch of our laboratory's values."

Explore further: Findings suggest how cancer cells can become resistant to DNA damage-inducing treatments

Related Stories

Findings suggest how cancer cells can become resistant to DNA damage-inducing treatments

October 23, 2011
An international team of scientists led by UC Davis researchers has discovered that DNA repair in cancer cells is not a one-way street as previously believed. Their findings show instead that recombination, an important DNA ...

Targeting PTEN may prevent skin cancer

July 26, 2011
Scientists believe they have identified a role for PTEN, a known tumor suppressor, in removing DNA damage derived from UVB radiation, a known risk factor for non-melanoma skin cancer, according to a study published in Cancer ...

Breakthrough could make 'smart drugs' effective for many cancer patients

June 27, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Newcastle and Harvard University reseachers have found that blocking a key component of the DNA repair process could extend the use of a new range of 'smart' cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors.

Abnormal DNA maintenance related to cancer

December 10, 2012
DNA, like houses and cars, needs ongoing maintenance. Rays of ultraviolet sunlight, chemical pollutants and normal biochemical processes in the cell can damage it. Cells routinely repair this damage before making proteins ...

Heat helps cancer drugs battle cancer

May 10, 2011
( -- Localized hyperthermia has been used occasionally with cancer drugs for some time, but until now, the reason it helps has been a mystery. In a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.