A new approach to cancer cells


Cancer cells have an exceptional ability to repair damage to their DNA caused by uncontrolled cell division. These findings result from application of a cell microarray screening method developed by a VTT research scientist.

Research scientists have now unveiled the mystery of the cancer cell DNA repair mechanism that explains the mechanistic changes in the genetic code of cancer cells. The new findings explain why cancer cells, unlike normal cells, fail to die as a result of DNA damage, and how this mechanism causes new genetic mutations in cancer cells. This new information directly benefits cancer research. In understanding the repair mechanism, scientists are now better equipped to develop drug therapies that stop the spread of cancer.

The genes that participate in the DNA repair mechanism were discovered by Juha Rantala, Senior Scientist at VTT, and Thanos Halazonetis, Coordinator of the EU-funded GENICA (Genomic instability in cancer and pre-cancer) project, using the cell microchip screening method developed by Rantala in 2010. Based on gene silencing, the method allows a single microchip to screen simultaneously the functions of tens of thousands of genes. The research, with its notable impact on cancer drug development, was published in Science magazine in December 2013.

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