Scientists at St Andrews University's Bute Medical School are investigating a vital link between radiation sensitivity and breast cancer susceptibility.
The study sheds new light on a vital enzyme that enables cells in our bodies to 'unravel' DNA. This enzyme allows the chromosomes to split into two prior to a cell dividing and could be linked to breast cancer susceptibility.
Using a model human cell system in which cells are grown in cultures in the laboratory, researchers have shown that when amounts of the enzyme 'topo-2' are reduced, the cells become resistant to low doses of gamma-rays and less damage to their chromosomes is observed.
Dr Peter Bryant of the Bute Medical School is heading the team. He said, "I believe that these findings could help explain individual susceptibility to sporadic (non-familial) breast cancer, since previous work in the Medical School has demonstrated an on-average higher radiation sensitivity of chromosomes to damage among white blood cells from breast cancer patients, when compared with groups of normal (non-cancer) patients."
contact: Dr Peter Bryant
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