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ESF EURYI award winner aims to stop cancer cells reading their own DNA

nents of the machinery are responsible for slicing and assembling the DNA itself. All of these are potential targets for anti-cancer therapy, providing it is possible to single out the tumor cells. Most existing chemotherapy targets all dividing cells, and the aim to find more sensitive techniques.

However Dekkers work is not just confined to cancer, having the broader goal within the ESF EURYI project of unraveling the underlying physical principles behind these molecular motors that operate at the nanometer scale to process and manipulate the information stored within the DNA and RNA of our cells. Dekker is exploiting a variety of new highly sensitive manipulation and imaging techniques capable of resolving single molecules. These include force spectroscopy, new forms of optical microscopy with greatly improved resolving power and field depth, as well as nanotechnologies. The research involves cross-disciplinary work among scientists in different fields with the long term goal of developing more precisely targeted molecular medicines for a variety of diseases involving disruption to normal cellular functions and not just cancer.

Dekkers work has already shown great promise, and she has been able to predict what effect certain antitumor drugs would have on the basis of her molecular insights, confirming her hypotheses in yeast cells. Indeed the work with antitumor drugs is, as far as I know, the first experiment in which single-molecule experiments have resulted in a prediction for a cellular effect, said Dekker.


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Contact: Thomas Lau
tlau@esf.org
33-388-762-158
European Science Foundation
9-Aug-2007


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