Can Altering DNA Drive Away Untreatable Cancers?
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Can Altering DNA Drive Away Untreatable Cancers?

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Thursday, October 24, 2019

One 'typo' in the DNA code can treat cancers that are immensely difficult to treat and have high mortality rates.

FREMONT, CA: Anyone can get cancer at any age, and the risk rises with age. Each year surprisingly, clinicians come up with nearly one and a half million new cancer cases. Although abnormal changes in the cells cause cancer, its' growth phenomenon is still being researched. There is no way to prevent cancer. However, there are ways of reducing it. There are three main types of cancer treatment, namely surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The treatment procedure for cancer patients varies from person to person based on the severity, type of cancer, and the ages of patients.

All the treatments mentioned above have their own side effects, causing fear among patients. The more one refuses to get treatment due to worry, the more they are facing chances of death. To ensure complete recovery and to minimize the side effects of cancer, an Ontario-led research group from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) has discovered a novel approach. Even a small change in the DNA code of a gene can cause multiple types of cancer. Similarly, altering DNA code in the vast non-coding regions of the human cancer genome, otherwise known as the "dark matter" of human cancer DNA can help in cancer-driving.

This cancer-driving mutation represents a new potential therapeutic target for several types of difficult-to-treat cancers, including liver and brain cancer. When the non-coding DNA, making up 98 percent of the genome, was overlooked, scientists conducted studies in this region. By carefully analyzing these regions, they have discovered that a minimal change, which is the change in one letter of the DNA code has the ability to drive multiple types of cancer. This study reveals a new cancer mechanism to tackle the disease.

The new molecular level approach involving mutation is termed as U1-snRNA mutation disrupt normal RNA splicing and alter the transcription of cancer-driving genes. The U1-snRNA mutation was found in patient tumors with specific subtypes of brain cancer, including all of the studied samples from adult patients with sonic hedgehog medulloblastoma. It was also found in samples of patients with the most common type of adult leukemia known as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and patients with a common type of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma. The new discovery has uncovered an entirely different and unique way to treat those cancers that are potentially difficult to treat and have high mortality rates.

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