Sign In
Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

A gene screening technique developed by Juha Rantala lies behind the new finding.

​A gene screening technique developed by Juha Rantala lies behind the new finding.

Cell screening leads to new cancer treatments

Paula Bergqvist | 5.6.2014

​Why do cancer cells sustain DNA damage? Why do cancer cells, unlike normal cells, fail to die as a result of DNA damage? Cancer researchers’ concern in finding the mechanism was ended by its discovery through a microchip method developed by Juha Rantala.

Thanos Halazonetis and Jiri Bartek first proposed in 2008 the activation of a specialized DNA repair mechanism in tumour cells experiencing oncogene induced replication stress. This mechanism repairs the damage caused by forced DNA replication in cancer cells, but also results in errors, such as mutations, and changes in DNA copy numbers. Researchers were then able to undertake further research to uncover new information on cancer initiation and progression.  

VTT’s Medical Biotechnology unit in Turku had the necessary competence, cell screening equipment and RNAi libraries to perform this further research.


A finding related to all types of cancer

The study results reveal that the repair mechanism is activated in cancer cells already in the early stages of the disease, in connection with the activation of oncogenes.

Oncogene activation causes so-called ’DNA replication stress’ as cancer cells begin to replicate their genome faster than a healthy cell. Chromosomes break up and the normal DNA structure changes.

– We showed that the mechanism causing genomic changes in cancer cells is caused by the oncogene itself, and not by an external factor. We believe this to be a fundamental mechanism involved in majority, if not all types of cancers, Dr Juha Rantala explains.

– Growth at the initial stage of cancer is not always malignant, but we can already detect DNA breaks caused by replication stress and indicating the development of cancer. The tumour develops, there are further genomic changes and the cancer cell becomes increasingly malignant as the cell’s normal regulation mechanisms are disrupted.

This new information is ready for immediate use in cancer research.

– Microchip-based screening was a brand new method in 2004 when I finished my studies and started working for VTT. My competence in various technologies meant that development of microchip technology using robotics became a natural part of my job, says Rantala.

The microchip method enables use of complex assay techniques for screening that would be impossible with traditional methods. The first version of the research method based on RNA interference was developed in the USA in 2003  by Professor Olli Kallioniemi and his team.


Efficiency increased a hundred times

The traditional screening method enables measurement with one microtitre plate of the functioning of a few hundred genes. The cell microchip screening method developed by Rantala is up to 100 times more efficient, with widespread uses for a number of measurement and screening needs. The method also creates savings in research costs since the amount of expensive reagents, or culture mediums, needed for growing cancer cells, and RNA molecules used for gene silencing, is much smaller compared to traditional screening.

– This tool enables us to produce findings that will accelerate the development of future cancer medicines. The reliability and versatility of this method has been proven in several research projects, says Rantala.

The research results are now openly available to researchers.

Cell microchips

The method based on cell microchips is up to 100 times more efficient than the traditional method.​


Targeting personalised cancer treatment

Juha Rantala works as Research Professor in the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), one of the USA’s fastest-developing cancer research centres. The university is particularly renowned for its research on leukaemia and other blood and heart diseases.

– Last year, we achieved very interesting new findings in the field of breast cancer, and are working on a few high impact publications. Our future aim is to be able to define rapidly the best suited treatment for each patient that will be as effective as possible. The key to this is screening examination of drug collections using the patient’s own cells, says Rantala.


BIR – break induced replication repair for cancer cells

 

A finding on a DNA repair mechanism known as Break Induced Replication Repair (BIR), published in Science magazine in December 2013, has not been described before in either human or mammal animal cells. Cancer cells use the mechanism to repair DNA damage resulting from uncontrolled DNA replication. 

The genes that participate in the repair mechanism were discovered by Juha Rantala and Thanos Halazonetis. Among others participating in the study was Thomas Helleday from the Karolinska Institutet. 

The research was part of the EU’s GENICA project.


 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
Bioeconomy and circular economyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Bioeconomy-and-circular-economy.aspxBioeconomy and circular economy
Towards carbon-neutral materialshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-carbon-neutral-materials.aspxTowards carbon-neutral materials
Simon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient carehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Simon-Kos-Microsoft-AI-is-forcing-its-way-into-patient-care.aspxSimon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient care
Technology enables good urban livinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Technology-enables-good-urban-living.aspxTechnology enables good urban living
Cyber security modelled on the vaccination programmehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-modelled-on-the-vaccination-programme.aspxCyber security modelled on the vaccination programme
Renewing industrial practices creates a new competitive edgehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Renewing-industrial-practices-creates-a-new-competitive-edge.aspxRenewing industrial practices creates a new competitive edge
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
Are environmental claims believable?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
Better beer based on long-term researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Better-beer-based-on-long-term-research.aspxBetter beer based on long-term research
Boost for propeller developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Clearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Clearing-the-way-for-new-materials-with-ChemSheet-technology.aspxClearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technology
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Tua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-production-and-use–smart-choices-an-impact.aspxTua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impact
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/How-to-become-a-leading-country-in-flexible-energy-production-systems.aspxHow to become a leading country in flexible energy production systems
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
S Group believes in a multi-channel modelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/S-Group-believes-in-a-multi-channel-model.aspxS Group believes in a multi-channel model
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest
The rise of robotic carshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Digitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalizationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-in-RTOs-Speeding-up-the-development-of-bio-based-technologies-with-digitalization.aspxDigitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalization
Pekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pekka-Soini’s-Business-Finland-is-an-internationalisation-channel-for-companies.aspxPekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companies
Digital societyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-society.aspxDigital society
Smart Citieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-Cities.aspxSmart Cities
Health and wellbeinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-and-wellbeing.aspxHealth and wellbeing
Low carbon energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Low-carbon-energy.aspxLow carbon energy
Smart industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-industry.aspxSmart industry
New materials developed from plantshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-materials-developed-from-plants.aspxNew materials developed from plants
Business developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-development.aspxBusiness development
The FinnCERES competence centre will take the materials bioeconomy to a new levelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-FinnCERES-competence-centre-will-take-the-materials-bioeconomy-to-a-new-level.aspxThe FinnCERES competence centre will take the materials bioeconomy to a new level
Solar Foods Oy: Tailored nutrition for a space exploration modelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Solar-Foods-Oy-Tailored-nutrition-for-a-space-exploration-model.aspxSolar Foods Oy: Tailored nutrition for a space exploration model
Can a phone help you achieve peace of mind?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Can-a-phone-help-you-achieve-peace-of-mind.aspxCan a phone help you achieve peace of mind?
Research with impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Research-with-impact.aspxResearch with impact
Food in transitionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Food-in-transition.aspxFood in transition
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
Productive use for Finnish biomasshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Productive-use-for-Finnish-biomass.aspxProductive use for Finnish biomass
Towards bioeconomy with the power of woodhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-bioeconomy-with-the-power-of-wood.aspxTowards bioeconomy with the power of wood
Combinostics: Faster diagnoses with artificial intelligencehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Combinostics-Faster-diagnoses-with-artificial-intelligence.aspxCombinostics: Faster diagnoses with artificial intelligence
Autonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Autonomous-systems-are-proliferating-rapidly-in-industry.aspxAutonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industry
X-ray imaging to new heightshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/X-ray-imaging-to-new-heights.aspxX-ray imaging to new heights
Artificial intelligence reveals cardiac patients’ risk of complicationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Artificial-intelligence-reveals-cardiac-patients-risk-of-complications.aspxArtificial intelligence reveals cardiac patients’ risk of complications
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Salofa-creates-rapid-tests-for-monitoring-health-and-the-environment.aspxSalofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environment
Plastic packaging to be replaced by wood fibrehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Plastic-packaging-to-be-replaced-by-wood-fibre.aspxPlastic packaging to be replaced by wood fibre