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Identification of a DNA structure that opens the way to the development of new pharmacological agents



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The study is presented on the cover of the leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie

The team led by the IRB Barcelona researcher Professor Miquel Coll has discovered a DNA structure that could become a new therapeutic target in the treatment of tumours and other diseases.

The group has described a new form of interaction between drugs and DNA that opens the way for the development of anti-DNA therapeutic agents. This research is presented on the cover page of Wednesday’s issue of the top chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie. The study has performed in collaboration with Mike Hannon’s group at the University of Birmingham (UK).

The group led by Miquel Coll reports a new form of interaction between drugs and DNA

First, the researchers in Birmingham developed a synthetic molecule with a three-face prism structure, and then the Barcelona team observed how this drug bound to DNA and how it fitted perfectly into the centre of the three-way junction. The researchers came up with an unprecedented mode of drug binding to DNA.

DNA junctions are unique structures that consist of several double strands that converge at one point. In DNA, the three-way junctions are involved in DNA replication and have been observed in several forms of cancer and other diseases such as myotonic dystrophy and Huntington’s disease. Consequently, the capacity to recognize a specific unusual DNA structure is an attractive alternative for gaining specificity in the design of novel and highly specific drugs.

About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).