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Scientists discover quadruple-helix DNA that could prove valuable in fighting cancer

Quadruple-helix DNA

For the first time, scientists have discovered quadruple-helix DNA in the human body. Until now the general consensus has been that only double-helix strands of DNA were found in nature, with those of the four-strand variety relegated to research labs and test tubes. But Shankar Balasubramanian, a chemistry professor at Cambridge University, has found that they naturally occur in cancer cells. Even more important than the discovery itself, though is the potential quadruple-helix DNA could offer in battling the horrific disease.

It's important to note that scientists are still in the very preliminary stages of this research, but should they manage to confirm that such unique DNA structures only appear in cancer cells, then theoretically drugs could be developed with the purpose of targeting them. Speaking to BBC News, Dr. Balasubramanian said "the quadruple helix DNA structure may well be the key to new ways of selectively inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells." Uncovering their existence in human cells has been a "real landmark." He's hoping that pharmaceutical companies will take note and put further resources behind deciding whether they provide a viable target for treatment.

The Verge
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