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10th February 2007

Exeter Fellow discovers new approach for anti-cancer drugs

Dr Alexandre Akoulitchev, Fellow of Exeter College and Senior Research Fellow of Oxford University, and his team have discovered a way to use “junk” DNA to create molecules that could be used in cancer-fighting treatments. Their paper, published in scientific journal¬†Nature, details how they have discovered a way to create an RNA molecule that disables a gene which controls the rapid division of cells.

The particular RNA molecule that is of interest to Dr Akoulitchev’s team inhibits the dihydrofolate reductase gene, which produces an enzyme that controls the molecules required for rapid division of cells. Existing anti-cancer drugs have worked by inhibiting the action of the enzyme; with this new approach, treatments could deactivate the gene directly, and neutralise the enzyme at the source of its production.

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