An advance on new generations of chemotherapy and antiviral drugs

September 8, 2008
Above is an illustration of DNA polymerase moving along the length of a DNA strand. Researchers are targeting new chemotherapy drugs that efficiently block uncontrolled DNA replication while minimizing side effects. Credit: The Protein Data Bank

Researchers are describing progress toward developing a new generation of chemotherapy agents that target and block uncontrolled DNA replication — a hallmark of cancer, viral infections, and other diseases — more effectively than current drugs in ways that may produce fewer side effects. Their article is scheduled for the Aug. 27 issue of ACS' Biochemistry.

In the article, Anthony J. Berdis updates and reviews worldwide research efforts to develop drugs that target DNA polymerases, the enzymes responsible for assembling DNA from its component parts.

Several promising strategies are already in use that inhibit uncontrolled DNA replication, particularly in anticancer therapy, but most produce severe side effects and are hampered by drug resistance, the researcher notes.

Berdis says that one of the more promising strategies to date involves the use of so-called nucleoside analogues, artificial pieces of DNA that inhibit replication by substituting for natural segments. Most nucleoside analogues directly target the active site of the polymerase enzyme, a non-specific approach that can also harm healthy cells which contain the enzyme.

Berdis describes an alternative approach in which the drugs directly target damaged DNA while avoiding healthy DNA, side-stepping the polymerase enzymes of normal cells. The development, which shows promise in preliminary lab studies, could lead to improved nucleoside analogues with fewer side effects, he says.

Article: "DNA Polymerases as Therapeutic Targets";

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Scientists produce clearest-ever images of enzyme that plays key roles in aging, cancer

Related Stories

The Making and Breaking of Microtubules

June 22, 2005

Microtubules are active protein polymers critical to the structure and function of cells and the process of cell division. In a living cell their growing ends constantly elongate and retreat in a thrashing frenzy of polymerization ...

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


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.