Molecular scissors snip at cancer’s Achilles’ heel | Science News

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Molecular scissors snip at cancer’s Achilles’ heel

CRISPR technology identifies drug targets in malignant cells

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10:59am, May 12, 2015

A new twist on a DNA-tweaking technology may help scientists hit cancer where it hurts.

Damaging tiny parts of cancer cells’ machinery can pinpoint potential Achilles’ heels, researchers suggest May 11 in Nature Biotechnology. These vulnerable spots may be good places to aim drugs, says study coauthor Christopher Vakoc, a molecular biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

With the new method, “we can draw bull’s-eyes on what might be the best targets for drug development,” he says.

Designing drugs that harm cancer cells can be hit-or-miss. Even when researchers find the motors that drive a cancer’s growth, shutting them down with drugs is tricky. Some molecules will make the machinery grind to a halt; others won’t do anything. Because researchers can’t always predict which molecules will be winners, companies often waste time and money on drugs

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