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A new DNA-based therapeutic to block enzymes which cause cancer progression

  • Researcher: Dr Vyacheslav Filichev
  • Institution: Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  • Award Amount: £210,150 for 3 years from 3 October 2016
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
A new DNA-based therapeutic to block enzymes which cause cancer progression
Dr Filichev and his team are developing a novel way of blocking DNA-damaging enzymes that are linked to cancer progression.

APOBEC3 enzymes are a helpful part of our immune system- they protect us by destroying the DNA of invading viruses and bacteria. However, several APOBEC3 enzymes are also linked to DNA changes that increase the risk of cancer progression.

The researchers want to make a new DNA-based therapeutic which inhibits the action of one of the APOBEC3 enzymes linked to cancer. The enzyme usually attacks and destroys single-stranded DNA found in invading cells, but ignores the double-stranded DNA found in healthy human cells. They want to exploit this difference by basing the new therapeutic on a chemically modified version of single-stranded DNA.

“We think that blocking the enzyme in this way will effectively suppress one of the main pathways that helps cancer to progress, but will not disrupt normal cells,” explains Dr Filichev. “But first we need to find out exactly how the enzyme normally interacts with single-stranded DNA. That’s what we are doing in this project.”

“I think with this work we will really advance knowledge about how APOBEC3 interacts with DNA, which in turn will accelerate drug discovery of novel compounds that inhibit cancer progress.”
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