13:31 22 January 2013
In what scientists may call a major cancer breakthrough, Cambridge University scientists have recently reported sightings of “Quadruple helix” DNA or four-stranded DNA at work in humancells for the first time. The discovery was made 60 years after Francis Crick and James Watson described the DNA double helix, which is considered one of the greatest discoveries in science as it helped scientists understand how genetic information is passed from one generation to the next.
Professor Shankar Balasubramanian, who led the study said: "It is quite a distinct structure to the double helix. It's a beautiful four-stranded helix that we know little about, but we are convinced it exists naturally.
"The quadruple helix DNA structure may well be the key to new ways of selectively inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. The confirmation of its existence in human cells is a real landmark.
"We are seeing links between trapping the quadruplexes with molecules and the ability to stop cells dividing, which is hugely exciting. The research indicates that quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells."
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