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.

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.


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
Impulse 1/2018https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2018.aspxImpulse 1/2018
Tracking peoplehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Tracking-people.aspxTracking people
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
Are environmental claims believable?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
Matti Apunen: At the core of the solutionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-core-of-the-solution.aspxMatti Apunen: At the core of the solution
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Automation gives packages wingshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Cell screening leads to new cancer treatmentshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cell-screening-leads-to-new-cancer-treatments.aspxCell screening leads to new cancer treatments
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Finland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-on-its-way-towards-low-carbon-year-2050.aspxFinland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050
VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
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
We must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-must-maintain-Finland-as-an-attractive-target-for-investment.aspxWe must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investment
Business for transportationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
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
Digital ecosystems are emerginghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-ecosystems-are-emerging.aspxDigital ecosystems are emerging
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters
Transport gets smarthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Transport-gets-smart.aspxTransport gets smart
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
A future without wastewater?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-future-without-wastewater.aspxA future without wastewater?
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
Before information gets lost in numbershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Designers needed in printed technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Health benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food qualityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-benefits-and-efficiency-without-sacrificing-food-quality.aspxHealth benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food quality
Serious efforts to boost the Finnish economyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Serious-efforts-to-boost-the-Finnish-economy.aspxSerious efforts to boost the Finnish economy
The creative force of change managementhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creative-force-of-change-management.aspxThe creative force of change management
Defence Forces seek a head starthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Defence-Forces-seek-a-head-start.aspxDefence Forces seek a head start
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
The story of Finlandhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-story-of-Finland.aspxThe story of Finland
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
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
Media production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networkshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Media-production-and-housing-services-are-preparing-for-the-5G-networks.aspxMedia production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networks
Miniaturising devices to fit on your palmhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Miniaturising-devices-to-fit-on-your-palm.aspxMiniaturising devices to fit on your palm
Developers of the futurehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Developers-of-the-future.aspxDevelopers of the future
Open-source infrastructure in product development for the electromechanical industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Open-source-infrastructure-in-product-development-for-the-electromechanical-industry.aspxOpen-source infrastructure in product development for the electromechanical industry
Pilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pilot-plants-forge-innovative-ideas-into-business-activities.aspxPilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activities
VTT’s spin-off GrainSense puts a laboratory in farmers’ handshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/VTTs-spin-off-GrainSense-puts-a-laboratory-in-farmers-hands.aspxVTT’s spin-off GrainSense puts a laboratory in farmers’ hands
Digitalisation in closing the gaphttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-in-closing-the-gap.aspxDigitalisation in closing the gap
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
Matti Apunen: A problem called excellencehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Matti-Apunen-A-problem-called-excellence.aspxMatti Apunen: A problem called excellence
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
From ideas to major innovationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
Intelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exportshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-transport-a-trump-card-for-Finnish-exports.aspxIntelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exports
We cannot afford not to have robotshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
Return on investmentshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Return-on-investments.aspxReturn on investments
What's going on in Australia?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?