Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Scientists Discover way to fix Drugs with DNA

Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Last Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2006
Bookmark and Share
This is thought to be a crucial step forward for researchers who are developing drugs to combat cancer and other diseases.

Scientists led by Mike Hannon at the University of Birmingham and Miquel Coll at the Spanish Research Council in Barcelona have discovered a way that drugs can attach themselves to DNA, which is a crucial step forward for researchers who are developing drugs to combat cancer and other diseases.

The research is highlighted (8th February 2006) in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

DNA contains the information which encodes life itself; its double-helical structure was recognised 50 years ago. Scientists soon started designing drugs to target DNA and used them to treat diseases such as cancer, viral infections and sleeping sickness.  

In the 1960s, scientists discovered three different classes of clinical drug, each of which recognised DNA in a different way. Subsequent drugs have used only these three ways to recognise the DNA. 

Now the Birmingham and Barcelona teams have found a fourth which is completely different and opens up new possibilities for drug design.

The scientists have developed a synthetic drug agent that targets and binds to the centre of a 3-way junction in the DNA. 

These 3-way junction structures are formed where three double-helical regions join together. They are particularly exciting as they have been found to be present in diseases, such as some Huntington's disease and myotonic dystrophy, in viruses and whenever DNA replicates itself, for example, during cancer growth.

First of all, the Birmingham team created a nanosize synthetic drug in the shape of a twisted cylinder. Together with researchers in the UK, Spain and Norway they showed that is had unprecedented effects on DNA.

Now molecular level pictures taken by the Barcelona team have shown that it binds itself in a new way to the DNA, by fixing itself to the centre of a DNA junction, which had three strands. 

It is all held together because the cylinder is positively charged and the DNA is negatively charged. In addition the drug is a perfect fit in the heart of the junction: a round peg in a round hole.

When a disease is present, genes are either working too hard or not enough, so to combat this, scientists are looking for ways to target those genes to turn them off or on or to make them work slower or faster. 

A number of current anti-cancer drugs target disease at DNA level, but they are not specific in their approach and this means that they can cause unpleasant side effects. 

Moreover some of these drugs suffer from developed resistance as the body learns how to deal with drugs that act in a particular way. 

By creating drugs which act in completely different ways this acquired resistance could be overcome.

Professor Mike Hannon, from the University of Birmingham's School of Chemistry, says, "This is a significant step in drug design for DNA recognition and it is an absolutely crucial step forward for medical science researchers worldwide who are working on new drug targets for cancer and other diseases."

"This discovery will revolutionise the way that we think about how to design molecules to interact with DNA. It will send chemical drug research off on a new tangent."

"By targeting specific structures in the DNA scientists may finally start to achieve control over the way our genetic information is processed and apply that to fight disease."

Professor Miquel Coll's team from the Spanish Research Council in Barcelona was able to obtain the molecular level picture of how the drug interacts with the DNA using a technique called X-ray crystallography at the European Synchrotron facility at Grenoble in France. 

Professor Miquel Coll says, "In 1999 we solved the structure of the four-way DNA junction -also called Holliday junction- which is how two DNA helices can 'recombine' (swop genetic information) and which is important in producing genetic diversity in humans and other organisms."

"But that junction was rather compact, without cavities or holes that could be used for drug binding."

"Now we have discovered that three-way DNA junctions are much more suitable for drug design: they leave a central cavity where a drug can fit perfectly and this opens a door for the design of new and quite unprecedented anti-DNA agents."

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Blood Cancer Could be Prevented Before it Develops
New research suggests myeloma could be prevented before it develops out of symptomless condition in bone marrow.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Angina Drug Could Inform A New Strategy To Fight Cryptococcosis
A drug, more commonly used in the treatment of angina, could be the focus of a new strategy in fighting the fatal fungal infection cryptococcosis.
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Mobile Laboratories Help Track Zika Spread Across Brazil
Researchers from the University of Birmingham are working with health partners in Brazil to combat the spread of Zika virus by deploying a pair of mobile DNA sequencing laboratories on a medical ‘road trip’ through the worst-hit areas of the country.
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Vaccinations Are More Effective When Administered In The Morning
Research from the University of Birmingham shows that influenza vaccinations have more protective responses when administered in the morning.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Immune System Primes Genes to Remember Infections
Our ability to fight off recurrent infections, such as colds or flu, may lie in the ‘immunological memory’ found in a newly discovered class of gene regulatory elements, according to research from the University of Birmingham, supported by the BBSRC and Bloodwise.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Evidence of How Incurable Cancer Develops
Researchers in the West Midlands have made a breakthrough in explaining how an incurable type of blood cancer develops from an often symptomless prior blood disorder.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
BGI, University of Birmingham Create UK Environmental Omics Centre
The Centre will seek to protect environment, health and global biodiversity by analysing the toxicity of compounds more efficiently than has been achieved before.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
New, Effective Way to Diagnose Latent TB
A study co-authored by the University of Birmingham has identified the most effective way to test people with latent tuberculosis (TB), a potentially fatal infection that has increased in the UK in recent years.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
A Cluster of Twenty Atoms of Gold is Visualized for the First Time by Physicists
Birmingham physicists reveal the atomic arrangement by imaging the cluster with an electron microscope.
Friday, July 27, 2012
University of Birmingham Invests £2 Million in Environmental Genomics Program
The research initiative aims to build genomics and bioinformatics expertise for the emerging field of environmental genomics.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Salford Lung Study - The First Real World Clinical Trial
In this podcast, we learn about the Salford Lung Study and its potential to revolutionize the way we assess new drugs and treatments around the world.
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
Structure of Primary Cannabinoid Receptor is Revealed
The findings provide key insights into how natural and synthetic cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinol —a primary chemical in marijuana—bind at the CB1 receptor to produce their effects.
Overlooked Molecules Could Revolutionise our Understanding of the Immune System
Researchers have discovered that around one third of all the epitopes displayed for scanning by the immune system are a type known as ‘spliced’ epitopes.
Illumina Contributes to ClinVar Database
The contribution includes variants of all classifications, from pathogenic to benign, identified during interpretation of whole genome sequences generated in the CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited Illumina Clinical Services Laboratory.
Agilent Presents Early Career Professor Award to Dr. Roeland Verhaak
JAX professor recognized for the development and implementation of workflows for the analysis of big-data from transcriptomics to next generation sequencing approaches.
NIH Study Determines Key Differences between Allergic and Non-Allergic Dust Mite Proteins
Researchers at NIH have uncovered factors that lead to the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos