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To understand why some cancer cells resist radiotherapy, an international team of researchers has used crystallography to "photograph" the first moments of the molecular ballet that allows these cells to repair their DNA. The study involved teams from the CEA, CNRS, PROXIMA-1 beamline at SOLEIL, University of Paris-Sud, Gustave Roussy, Aix-Marseille University and University Paul Sabatier—Toulouse III. It was published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Radiotherapy is a critical tool in cancer treatment. Prescribed in one in two cases (i.e. 200,000 cases per year in France), the rays used in radiotherapy destroy cancer cells by fragmenting their DNA. However, in tumours, some cells can resist treatment by repairing the breaks in their DNA. To increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy on the tumour, for instance by inhibiting DNA repair in the tumour, researchers first need to have a detailed understanding of how these repair mechanisms work.
Cells - Protein - Assembles - Protein - Ku
In irradiated cells, a protein complex assembles around a ring-shaped protein known as Ku, which quickly encircles the ends of DNA breaks. Through this ballet, the ends of breaks are repaired...
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