Tumor cells evade death through in extremis DNA repair
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IMAGE: Image of breast cancer cells derived from a mouse mammary tumor (in blue: nucleus, in green: tubulin). view more 

Credit: Author: Begoña Cánovas, IRB Barcelona

Greater knowledge of the mechanisms that contribute to the survival of tumour cells is key to vanquishing them. The study published today in the journal Cancer Cell, headed by Angel R. Nebreda, ICREA researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), reveals a new protective mechanism for tumour cells in breast cancer and identifies novel therapeutic targets to treat this condition. The study has been funded by competitive Advanced and Proof of Concept grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

The results demonstrate that the p38alpha (p38 from now on) protein protects tumour cells by turning on a DNA repair mechanism. In this regard, p38 safeguards tumour cells against the excessive accumulation of DNA errors, or mutations. “Tumour cells inherently tend to accumulate DNA damage but in some this accumulation is greater, and we have observed that these cells are more dependent on p38 activity,” explains Nebreda.

Breast cancer is the most lethal tumour in women, causing 521,000 deaths worldwide each year, 6,213 of these in Spain (sources: World Health Organization

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