Dr. Anindya Dutta and his team made the discovery while investigating a previously discovered gene his that plays an important role in repairing damaged DNA.

Dr. Anindya Dutta and his team made the discovery while investigating a previously discovered gene his that plays an important role in repairing damaged DNA. (UVA Health System photo)

He noted that researchers can use the discovery to develop a blood test to determine which patients would benefit from prioritizing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The finding also suggests a way that doctors one day might “sensitize” cancers of all sorts to the treatments.

“If there is some way we could decrease the activity of [these repair genes] at the same time you’re giving the patient radiotherapy or chemotherapy, then the cancer would become much more susceptible,” he said. “The biochemical pathway we’ve unraveled for [one of the genes] gives us hope that we should be able to find small chemicals that could interrupt this activity.”

More on the Discovery

The finding also sheds light on how the body’s cells determine how to repair DNA damage. To learn more, visit UVA’s Making of Medicine blog.

Dutta and his team have described the findings in the scientific journal Molecular Cell. The research team consisted of Kyung Yong Lee, Jun-Sub Im, Etsuko Shibata and Dutta.

The work was supported by the Farrow Fellowship and the National Cancer Institute, grants P30 CA44579, R01 CA60499 and CA166054.

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