American researchers explore cell enzyme as a potential paediatric brain tumour treatment

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Health Care System have been exploring the role of a DNA repair enzyme in cells called Dicer. When they removed this enzyme from preclinical models of medulloblastoma, a brain cancer often found in children, they found increased levels of DNA damage that led to the cell's death.

Researchers found that Dicer removal from rapidly dividing, cancerous brain tumour cells, also reduced the cell size and made them more sensitive to chemotherapy treatments.

Speaking to the journal Cell Report, Dr Mohanish Deshmukh said: "This is the first time that the specific function of Dicer for DNA damage has been looked at in the context of the developing brain or even in brain tumors, despite that the fact that the protein has been extensively studied.”

"We have found that targeting Dicer could be an effective therapy to either prevent cancer development or to actually sensitize tumors to chemotherapy."

Mariana Dinnis, Research Manager at The Brain Tumour Charity says: “It is exciting for us to see new treatments which specifically target rapid dividing cells such as tumours. This treatment seems to have the advantage of not only making tumour cells smaller, but also making them more sensitive to chemotherapy, meaning that future chemotherapy treatments have the potential to be more effective. We welcome further studies on this to see if this can be one day applied to a clinical setting.

“At The Charity we also address such fundamental research questions through our Research Strategy – A Cure Can't Wait.”

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