06/25/2021 at 8:30 AM CEST
There are more than ten million people who died during the year 2020 due to a Cancer. Of any type.
People who were, in many cases, subjected to different treatments to try to end the greatest enemy of our society but who were not able to win the battle.
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In order to try to end it, with cancer, there are many, almost innumerable, avenues of investigation that are opened each year to improve possible therapies, among which chemotherapy currently takes the cake.
It is understood as the most effective to fight against that dangerous enemy.
In general terms, we could say that chemotherapy is responsible for killing tumor cells introducing lesions. In this way, the cellular machinery of our organism cannot read the instructions written in the genes.
Sometimes the cell is able to repair this injury, survive and circumvent the effect of chemotherapy-based treatment.
In that system errorOne of the keys to improving cancer survival rates could be in that black hole where many patients are still engulfed today.
And it is that, based on that knowledge, a study carried out by the National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO), specifically by the DNA Replication Group and led by Dr. Juan Méndez, has discovered a protein capable of enhancing the repair mechanism of the cellular machinery in our DNA.
The study, which has been published in the scientific journal The EMBO Journal, analyzes how this protein called PrimPol helps the cell survive when its DNA is damaged and how this can be used to enhance the effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
The PrimPol It belongs to a family of proteins called cousins and allows cells to be able to use and read the instructions written in their DNA even when it contains an error.
When a cell has its DNA damaged, at the time of copying it the proteins in charge of it, cause the cell to end up dying if the effect is prolonged.
PrimPol does, however, allow DNA to be read by restarting it after failure, that is, “it offers an immediate solution to avoid blockage, giving the cell the opportunity to repair the DNA failure later,” according to Juan himself. Mendez.
PrimPol and chemotherapy
The operation of chemotherapy consists, as we said, in directly affecting tumor cells to end up killing them.
However, the discovery made around PrimPol , leads the researchers to think that this protein ends up reducing the effect of the treatment since it allows to read again that DNA that the chemotherapy tried to damage.
“By facilitating the repair of ICL lesions – interchain crossovers, that is, lesions that prevent the separation of DNA strands and which is the way chemotherapy works -, PrimPol is interfering with the effectiveness of chemotherapy,” he says. Dr. Méndez.
It is about, that is the idea, to end the effect of the protein to enhance the treatment.
Yes PrimPol was not present in the body, it is deduced from the study, tumor cells would be much more sensitive to chemo: “If we manage to suppress the function of PrimPol in these cells, we could improve the efficiency of chemotherapy, ”says Méndez.
That is the next step for researchers at the CNIO.
So much so that they already collaborate with him Experimental Therapies Program own National Center for Cancer Research to identify specific inhibitors of PrimPol .
A basic discovery, but one that can clearly open a new way to improve the situation and the treatment of millions of cancer patients.