A new approach established at the University of Zurich sheds light on the effects of anti-cancer drugs and the defense mechanisms of cancer cells. The method makes it possible to quickly test various drugs and treatment combinations at the cellular level.
Cancer cells are cells over which the human body has lost control. The fact that they are transformed body cells makes it all the more difficult to combat them effectively – whatever harms them usually also harms the healthy cells in the body. This is why it is important to find out about the cancer cells’ particular weaknesses.
In certain types of breast and ovarian cancer, for example, such a weakness is given by mutations in genes that play a role in DNA repair. Treating cancer cells of this kind with a group of newly approved drugs – so-called PARP inhibitors – makes it difficult for these cells to replicate their DNA, and they ultimately perish. Normal cells, however, can solve such problems using their intact DNA repair machinery.
Effect of drugs observed in thousands of cells
The Department of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease of the University of Zurich uses cancer cell cultures to investigate the exact effects
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