Disabling Cancer Cells' Defenses Against Radiation
Mar 15, 2012 - 2:03:45 PM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - ATLANTA--Researchers at Winship Cancer Institute are developing a technique to remove cancer cells' defenses against radiation.
Radiation primarily kills cells by inducing DNA damage, so the aim of the technique is to sensitize cells to radiation by disabling their ability to repair DNA. The technique sneaks RNA molecules into cells that shut down genes needed for DNA repair.
The still-experimental method could potentially allow oncologists to enhance the tumor-killing effects of radiation, while using lower doses and reducing damage to healthy tissues.
In the laboratory, a team led by Ya Wang, MD, PhD, uses modified lentiviruses to introduce the RNA molecules. The same types of viruses have been used in gene therapy research. Wang says her team is now testing whether a small peptide tag can direct RNA to brain tumors instead. She is professor of radiation oncology at Emory School of Medicine and director of the Division of Experimental Radiation Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute.
The results were published in the March 1, 2012 issue of Cancer Research.
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