Newly Discovered Pathway Might Help in Design of Cancer Drugs

Mar 15, 2005

Johns Hopkins chemists have discovered a new way to sabotage DNA's ability to reproduce, a finding that could eventually lead to the development of new anti-cancer drugs and therapies.
The method could enable future doctors to target treatment more precisely, rather than directing chemotherapeutic medication or radiation to tumors through a scattershot approach, said Marc Greenberg (pictured at right), a chemistry professor in the university's Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, who presented his team's findings today at the 229th American Chemical Society Meeting in San Diego.

"What we did was to identify a way to create a very damaged form of DNA that is often more deadly to the cell than other types of damage," said Greenberg. "That's how many anti-tumor medications — medications such as mitomycin c — work: They kill off tumors by linking up with the cancer cells' DNA and sticking its genetic code together so it dies. Our discovery takes that a step further, establishing that there is a way to efficiently create this type of damage by modifying the DNA itself ."

In the lab, Greenberg and his team used organic chemistry to create a synthetic, double-stranded DNA with special chemical characteristics and exposed it to long wavelength light that selectively switches on the DNA damage process.

He said that the synthetic DNA is very similar to that which is produced when cells are exposed to radiation, with one exception: Greenberg's team's DNA was damaged at only one place on its chain, allowing the researchers to study it and learn about that particular chemical pathway in detail.

"Exposing DNA to radiation is like hitting a fine piece of crystal stemware with a hammer. It shatters, and looking for a particular chemical pathway is like looking for a needle in a haystack," the chemist explained. "What we did was more like carrying out a precision attack. It let us get a closer look."

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Explore further: Extra time in math class has its minuses, scholar says

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making smartphones smarter with see-through sensors

Jun 18, 2014

(Phys.org)—Your smartphone's display glass could soon be more than just a pretty face, thanks to new technology developed by researchers from Montreal and the New York-based company Corning Incorporated. ...

Targeting tumors using silver nanoparticles

Jun 08, 2014

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have designed a nanoparticle that has a couple of unique—and important—properties. Spherical in shape and silver in composition, it is encased in a shell coated with a peptide ...

New jigsaw piece for the repair of DNA crosslinks

May 27, 2014

Environmental influences such as ionizing radiation, intense heat or various chemical substances damage the DNA constantly. Only thanks to efficient repair systems can mutations – changes in the DNA – ...

Recommended for you

How to win a Tour de France sprint

43 minutes ago

The final dash to the line in a Tour de France sprint finish may appear to the bystander to be a mess of bodies trying to cram into the width of a road, but there is a high degree of strategy involved. It ...

Radar search to find lost Aboriginal burial site

4 hours ago

Scientists said Tuesday they hope that radar technology will help them find a century-old Aboriginal burial ground on an Australian island, bringing some closure to the local indigenous population.

'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

14 hours ago

It's human nature to hate losing. Unfortunately, it's also human nature to overreact to a loss, potentially abandoning a solid strategy and thus increasing your chances of losing the next time around.

User comments : 0