Cancer drug discovery: targeting DNA repair

Standard anticancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, target rapidly dividing cells by damaging their DNA. A newer strategy is to undercut cancer cells’ ability to repair DNA damage.

Winship Cancer Institute investigators led by David Yu, MD, PhD have identified a distinct function in DNA double strand break repair for an enzyme called SAMHD1. Depleting or inhibiting SAMHD1 could augment anticancer treatments that induce DNA double-strand breaks, such as ionizing radiation or PARP inhibitor drugs, they suggest. Ionizing radiation is a mainstay of cancer treatment and PARP inhibitors are being developed for several cancer types.

The findings were published in Cell Reports (open access).

Yu is associate professor of radiation oncology at Winship Cancer Institute and Emory University School of Medicine and a faculty member in the CB and GMB programs. Co-author virologist Baek Kim, PhD, professor of pediatrics, is director of the Center for Drug Discovery, part of the Emory-Children’s-Georgia Tech Research Alliance. Dr. Kim is also a faculty member in the MMG and MSP programs.

Winship co-authors include Paul Doetsch, PhD, Distinguished Chair and Associate Director for Basic Research and a faculty member in the BCDB, CB and GMB programs, William Dynan, PhD, professor of radiation oncology and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and a faculty member in the BCDB and CB programs, Xingming Deng, PhD associate professor radiation oncology and a CB faculty member, and Ya Wang, PhD, professor of radiation oncology and a faculty member in the CB and GMB programs.

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