Researchers explain why normal cells turn cancerous

November 22nd, 2010 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) What prompts normal cells to turn cancerous?

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Centre in the US, have identified factors in the very first step of the process and replicated it in the lab.

The DNA molecule - the elegant, twin-stranded necklace of life in all cells - gets broken and repaired all the time, reports the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Breaks are caused by the body’s metabolic activities such as energy consumption and environmental factors such as exposure to ultraviolet light.

Cancer results when the repair response is absent or deficient, according to a university statement.

“The DNA breaks are considered to be a major instigator of cancer cell development,” said Sang Eun Lee, associate professor of molecular medicine at the health science centre.

“When a break is detected, signals are sent to cells that repair is needed,” Lee said.

The early initiating step of the break-repair and signalling “has been quite elusive for some time because the factors were not known”, Lee said.

Previously Lee led a study that identified the role that a set of enzymes called Mre11 and Exo1, played in DNA breakdown.

His team successfully “repeated the process in a test tube because we now knew about Mre11 and Exo1″, said Lee.

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