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Losing control, and dicing with DNA

  • Researcher: Dr Fabrizio d'Adda di Fagagna
  • Institution: Istituto di Genetica Molecolare del CNR, Pavia, Italy
  • Award Amount: £83,787 for 3 years from November 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Losing control, and dicing with DNA
Dr d'Adda di Fagagna and his team in Italy are looking at a potentially new way to control an important piece of cell machinery which acts as the cell ‘checkpoint’ against cancer. The DNA damage response (DDR) process steps in to control cells which are out of control. It works by stopping cells with damaged DNA growing and dividing unchecked, and eventually forming tumours. But sometimes the DDR process can go wrong, and damaged cells continue to grow unhindered. So what regulates the DDR process? In other words, what controls the controller? Dr d’Adda di Fagagna and other scientists have found evidence of a new mechanism which regulates DDR activity. He is using Worldwide Cancer Research funding to study this mechanism in more detail. The new mechanism involves two enzymes- called DICER and DROSHA. Both enzymes are well known by scientists, but the idea that they can moderate cancer-controlling mechanisms is a new one. Dr d’Adda di Fagagna hopes to understand exactly how they are involved- potentially uncovering a new way of targeting anticancer treatments.
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