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Possible Toolkit To Repair DNA Breaks Associated With Aging, Cancer, And MND

8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Posted on Nov 17, 2020, 3 p.m.

According to a report published in Nature Communications experts may have discovered a new toolkit of proteins that can repair breaks in DNA, accumulations of DNA breaks can cause aging, cancer, and motor neurone disease. Findings may also help to repair DNA breaks that are caused during chemotherapy treatment to kill cancerous cells.

Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Sheffield report that a protein called TEX264 together with other enzymes are able to recognize and eat toxic proteins that can stick to DNA and cause it to become damaged, accumulations of broken, damaged DNA can cause cellular aging, cancer, and neurological diseases such as MND. 

Repairing this kind of DNA damage has been poorly understood until now, scientists hope to exploit this possible repair toolkit of proteins to better protect humans from aging, cancer, and neurological diseases. Findings may also have implications for chemotherapy which deliberately causes breaks in DNA when used to try to kill cancerous cells; targeting the TEX264 protein may offer a new way to treat cancer. 

“Failure to fix DNA breaks in our genome can impact our ability to enjoy a healthy life at an old age, as well as leave us vulnerable to neurological diseases like motor neurone disease (MND),” says Professor Sherif El-Khamisy, Co-Founder and Deputy Director of the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield and a professor from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Sheffield, who co-led this research. “We hope that by understanding how our cells fix DNA breaks, we can help meet some of these challenges, as well as explore new ways of treating cancer in the future.”

“Our finding of TEX264, a protein that forms the specialized machinery to digest toxic proteins from our DNA, significantly changes the current understanding of how cells repair the genome and so protect us from accelerated ageing, cancer and neurodegeneration. I believe this discovery has a great potential for cancer therapy in the future and we are already pursuing our research in this direction,” said Professor Kristijan Ramadan from the University of Oxford, who co-led this research.“I am very proud of my research team who initially discovered the involvement of TEX264 in DNA repair.”

The next step in this research is to test if the behaviours and properties of the protein TEX264 are altered in ageing and in neurological disorders such as motor neurone disease (MND), then to move forward with the goal to translate their scientific discoveries into pioneering treatments that will benefit patients living with neurodegenerative disorders. 

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