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Investigating DNA repair in cancer and its link to non-coding RNA

  • Researcher: Dr Marianne Farnebo
  • Institution: Karolinska Institutet
  • Award Amount: £199,768 for 3 years from June 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Investigating DNA repair in cancer and its link to non-coding RNA

Every cell carries a complete set of blueprints called genes. Genes are coded instructions to make proteins which then carry out activities within the cell. However, in order to be of any use, the genetic code must first be decoded and turned into something called RNA. The resulting RNA can then be used to make proteins. Recent findings show that some RNA, called non-coding RNA, do not help make proteins. Instead, these non-coding RNAs have several roles inside the cell, such as controlling the RNA that make proteins and it is thought they also do other things.

Dr Farnebo is using her Worldwide Cancer Research grant to investigate a process not currently proven to involve non-coding RNA - the repair of damaged DNA. If DNA damage is not repaired correctly this can lead to the development of a cancerous cell. Dr Farnebo is therefore investigating what role non-coding RNAs, and the proteins that stick to non-coding RNAs, play in the correct repair of DNA. She is also looking at what happens if changes occur to either of these non-coding RNAs or the associated proteins and how that may impact DNA repair. Basic research, like that carried out by Dr Farnebo, is important as there is still so much for scientists to learn about how healthy cells work and what goes wrong to cause cancer. It is much harder to try to fix something if we don’t understand exactly what is broken. Projects like this help scientists unravel the complex details of what goes wrong to cause cancer so they can then build on this knowledge to try to find ways of preventing or treating cancer in the future.

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