Tag Archives: DNA

New Research: Programming DNA to Deliver Targeted Cancer Treatment

New Research: Programming DNA to Deliver Targeted Cancer Treatment
New Research: Programming DNA to Deliver Targeted Cancer Treatment

DNA carries the genetic information that makes you who you are. While DNA directs protein production by cells, scientists have discovered a way to turn DNA into an on/off switch for applications in cancer treatment.

DNA: A Protein Computer

In essence, DNA operates like a computer. Just as all digital data relies on various configurations of a two-component code, DNA uses different arrangements of a four-component code to determine which proteins need to be manufactured.

This similarity has given rise to a field called DNA computing. A research team at the University of Delaware recently engineered DNA strands with a code to create circuits programmed to open and close based on a specific logic.

Leveraging DNA Code

The next step was to make and purify the proteins that the scientists wanted to use. Once the custom-made DNA strands were received from the manufacturer, the proteins were attached to form protein-DNA conjugates.

When the DNA circuits were tested on both E. coli bacteria and human cells, the target proteins went through a series of stages just as they had been programmed to do.

Applications for Cancer Treatment

Once the DNA circuits proved to be successful, the UD team tested them with cancer prodrugs, which are inert until they’re metabolized into therapeutic form. The scientist designed DNA circuits to control the protein that triggers metabolism of the prodrug. Professor Wilfred Chen, lead author of the study, anticipates a future of “plug-and-play” DNA circuits.

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Pennsylvania Teen Suggests DNA Mining Solution to Cancer Treatment

Teenager Suggests Cancer Treatment
Teenager Suggests Cancer Treatment

A Lancaster, Pennsylvania teen is all smiles these days. Marissa Witmer, a sophomore at Solanco High School, has been selected one of 12 teen semi-finalists in the National Academy Medical School Scholarship Challenge to find a cure for cancer. (Click to watch the WGAL News report.) The teen with the winning idea will receive a $185,000 scholarship to the medical school of their choice.

“I have been motivated to find an alternative treatment for breast cancer,” Marissa said. “All the women in my family have had some sort of cancer, so it’s like my mom and I are kind of next, and it would be kind of nice to figure something out before that happens.”

Traditional cancer treatments attack cancer cells from the outside, pummeling them with chemotherapy or radiation or removing them surgically. While current research has brought the cancer fight down to the cellular level, most new treatments seem to be focused on changing cancer cell behavior by manipulating external cell triggers.

Mining Cancer DNA

Marissa’s proposal would attack cancer cells internally, literally ripping their guts out. The teen wants to develop an alternative cancer treatment that would pull the DNA out of cancer cells, either killing them immediately or at least rending them harmless.

DNA manipulation of cells is already a laboratory reality so there’s every reason to believe that when Marissa is ready to enter medical school in seven years she’ll have the opportunity to make her dreams come true!

Issels Integrative Oncology has been a leader in the fields of integrative immunotherapy and alternative cancer treatment for more than 60 years. Visit our website to find out more about us.