AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: TopBP1

One Step Closer to Curing Cancer

Photo taken by: ἀλέξ

Recently, finding the cure to cancer has been the goal of thousands of bright-eyed scientists around the world. This summer, members of the University of Atlanta, led by Mark Glover, published a study in a medical journal, Structure. In this study, they made some breakthroughs concerning the behavior of two proteins that are involved in repairing DNA: BRCA1 & TopBP1. To put it in very simple terms, BRCA1 brings in proteins to repair the DNA strand if it is damaged, while TopBP1 makes sure that the DNA can copy itself and alerts proteins to help repair it. All along, scientists thought that both of these proteins acted in the exact same way. This new research concluded that their results may be similar, but they respond to a problem in very different ways. The scientists believe that this new information could be used in order to inhibit the repair and copying of the DNA found in cancerous cells. They are currently studying why the TopBP1 chooses to work with the protein it does, and trying to figure out ways that medicine could change the way that these proteins work in order to improve cancer treatments. Do you think that this is in fact the next step to finding a cure to cancer? I think that this new information could induce a big change in how we view cancer treatment. This article, entitled “Discovery about DNA repair could lead to improved cancer treatments” is an intriguing read in my opinion, because so much emphasis is put in the scientific world on curing cancer. It is, after all, the next big step that many are fighting to accomplish first.

New Information on DNA Repair Could Mean Better Cancer Treatments

Photo Taken by EMW

Photo Taken by EMW


It has been accepted that DNA repairs itself.  However, a discovery concerning how this process occurs could lead to more efficient, and thus less damaging, cancer treatments.  Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have expanded the knowledge that scientists have regarding two proteins: BRCA1 (shown in the image) and TopBP1.  These proteins were previously thought to play identical roles in the DNA repair process.  However, this team of researchers recently showed that BCRA1 searches for any damaged DNA and then signals for help, while TopBP1 searches for DNA damaged specifically due to a problem with the DNA replication process and then signals for help.

Cancer Treatment Improvements?

When DNA becomes too damaged, cancer results.  The new cancer DNA can then copy itself and spread.  New ideas concerning radiation therapy making the cancer DNA unable to repair itself and unable to replicate are arising with this new discovery about the DNA-repairing proteins’ roles.  For instance, once cancer cells are damaged, proteins try to fix them, renewing the cancer cells.  Treatment could potentially be targeted at these proteins to stop them from fixing the cancer DNA and allowing the replication process to continue, now that we more fully understand their functions.

I find it fascinating to see how a rather basic discovery can have such major outcomes, and I am curious to see if further research will determine if certain medication can affect these powerful proteins.  Are there any other potential benefits to this protein-related discovery?


Original Article

For more information about DNA damage and repair and the role of the TopBP1 protein, click here. (Section 4 on this link talks about the similarities between BRCA1 and TopBP1.)




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