Research highlight

Making tumors BRCAless

Nature Medicine

June 27, 2011

A strategy to treat a broad range of cancers by focusing on the DNA repair process is published online this week in Nature Medicine. These findings could potentially expand the therapeutic range of inhibitors of PARP, a protein involved with DNA repair, which is currently used primarily to treat tumors resulting from BRCA gene mutations, to a broader range of cancers.

While promoting cancer, BRCA genetic alterations also debilitate the cancer cell’s ability to upkeep and repair its DNA. By further hampering this process, through targeting other essential components, such as PARP, selective killing of tumor cells can be achieved. However, this strategy can only be applied to BRCA mutation tumors.

Geoffrey Shapiro and colleagues show that simultaneous inhibition of an enzyme that regulates BRCA activity can make cancer cells without BRCA mutations sensitive to PARP inhibitor treatment. This dual inhibitor strategy could be generally applied to treating cancers regardless their BRCA mutational status.

doi: 10.1038/nm.2377

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