MessageToEagle.com - Based on the scientific contributions of such famous scientists as Swiss chemist
Friedrich Miescher who first identified DNA in the late 1860s, Phoebus Levene and Erwin Chargaff who carried out
a series of research efforts that revealed additional details about the DNA - Cambridge researchers Watson and
Crick could propose the Double Helix DNA structure in 1953.
Now, Cambridge researchers have discovered that four-stranded 'quadruple helix' DNA structures - known as
G-quadruplexes - also exist within the human genome.
They form in regions of DNA that are rich in the building block guanine, usually abbreviated to 'G'.
The research published today in Nature Chemistry show clear links between concentrations of four-stranded
quadruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is pivotal to cell division and production.
By targeting quadruplexes with synthetic molecules that trap and contain these DNA structures - preventing
cells from replicating their DNA and consequently blocking cell division - scientists believe it may be possible
to halt the runaway cell proliferation at the root of cancer.
"We are seeing links between trapping the quadruplexes with molecules and the ability to stop cells dividing,
which is hugely exciting," said Professor Shankar Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge's Department
of Chemistry and Cambridge Research Institute, whose group produced the research.
"The research indicates that quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing,
such as cancer cells.
For us, it strongly supports a new paradigm to be investigated - using these four-stranded
structures as targets for personalised treatments in the future."
Physical studies over the last couple of decades had shown that quadruplex DNA can form in vitro - in the 'test tube',
but the structure was considered to be a curiosity rather than a feature found in nature.
The researchers now know for the first time that they actually form in the DNA of human cells.
"This research further highlights the potential for exploiting these unusual DNA structures to beat cancer - the
next part of this pipeline is to figure out how to target them in tumour cells," said Dr Julie Sharp, senior
science information manager at Cancer Research UK.
"We have found that by trapping the quadruplex DNA with synthetic molecules we can sequester and stabilise them,
providing important insights into how we might grind cell division to a halt," said Balasubramanian.
"There is a lot we don't know yet. One thought is that these quadruplex structures might be a bit of a nuisance
during DNA replication - like knots or tangles that form.
"Did they evolve for a function? It's a philosophical question as to whether they are there by design or not -
but they exist and nature has to deal with them. Maybe by targeting them we are contributing to the disruption
The study published was led by Giulia Biffi, a researcher in Balasubramaninan's lab at the Cambridge Research
When Will Humans Join The Galactic Club?
Most people believe that humans will sooner or later establish open contact with aliens.
When it happens, we might get an invitation to join what scientists and science-fiction writers refer to as the "Galactic Club".
There is also a possibity that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations will not welcome us a new members...
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Aliens Living On Methane Worlds
n the search for life elsewhere, many studies focus on finding liquid water. But what if life could exist with some other
solvent? Saturn's smoggy moon Titan makes scientists question the possibilities for methane-based life in the galaxy.
The Eyes Of A Future Alien Astronomer - What Will They See?
Have you ever wondered what the Universe will look like for a future alien astronomer?
It will in fact be entirely different from what it is today.
One trillion years from now, an alien astronomer in our galaxy will have great difficulties figuring out how the universe began.
The Milky Way will have merged with the Andromeda galaxy to form the Milkomeda galaxy. Many of its stars, including our Sun, will have burned out.