Could reading our circadian clocks according to DNA repair optimize chemotherapy?

CHAPEL HILL, NC – We all have tiny, protein-operated clocks inside our cells that operate based upon the 24-hour day cycle. These circadian clocks are important for the proper biological function of different organs – heart, liver, lungs, brain, skin. Yet, we don’t know exactly how they interact with other basic and crucial biology, such as DNA repair – the process our cells constantly undergo because we are perpetually bombarded with stuff that wrecks DNA. Sunlight, for instance.

The UNC School of Medicine lab of Nobel laureate Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, works on these two fronts of circadian clock and DNA repair. Sancar’s lab developed a way to measure the repair of DNA damage caused by cisplatin – a common anti-cancer drug. And for the first time, his lab measured DNA repair after cisplatin treatment over the course of an entire 24-hour circadian cycle throughout an entire genome of a mammal.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found what sites in the genome were repaired, what specific genes were repaired, and when. They found that DNA repair of normal tissue was most robust predawn and pre-dusk in mice.

“We found there are close


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