Researchers have discovered that four-stranded DNA exists within the human genome, according to Science Daily today, Jan. 20. This finding may provide scientists with the necessary tools to combat cancer more successfully.
The study funded by Cancer Research UK, and published in the Jan. 20, 2013 Nature Chemistry journal is the culmination of 10 years of research which began as hypothetical computer models and ended in successful replication of the four stranded DNA named “G-quadruplexes” in vivo.
The announcement of this new discovery comes just three months shy of the 60th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick’s groundbreaking study which revealed the double helix model of DNA in their paper “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.”
DNA is typically double stranded and contains four different nucleotides, adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The particular order of nucleotides within a DNA strand determines the “code” for a particular operation or protein synthesis to occur.
The research team led by Giulia Biffi at the Cambridge Research Institute and included scientists from the University of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry found “G-quadruplexes” most prevalent in regions of DNA that are rich in the building block guanine, usually abbreviated 'G'. .
The study also ifound that quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing, The study highlights the potential for exploiting the guanine rich DNA structures to beat cancer.
According to Science Daily, "The 'quadruple helix' DNA structure may well be the key to new ways of selectively inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. The confirmation of its existence in human cells is a real landmark."
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