Cancer drug study gets cash boost

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SCIENTISTS are investigating a new target for drugs to tackle cancer following a £156,000 grant from the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The three-year study at Sheffield University forms part of a wider investigation into the role of DNA repair functions and their potential as a target for new drugs to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in killing tumour cells.

Proteins involved in the repair of damaged DNA together make up the DNA damage response which works to safeguard against potentially toxic and disease-causing mutations inside cells. But defects in the response can lead to cancer.

Spencer Collis, who is carrying out the work, said: “Failure to correctly repair DNA damage leads to genetic instability, which is a hallmark of the majority of cancers. However, targeting of DNA damage response factors in cancer cells can be used to improve therapeutic responses to radiotherapy and chemotherapeutic agents.”

He said the project aimed to understand how a specific protein was involved in the DNA damage response and in the longer term it was hoped it could be used as a target for drugs.