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Researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Oxford, discover a DNA-recycling mechanism that normally protects cells but can be turned against certain cancer cells.

In studying how cells recycle the building blocks of DNA, Ludwig Cancer Research scientists at Oxford University have discovered a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer. They found that normal cells have highly selective mechanisms to ensure that nucleosides – the chemical blocks used to make new strands of DNA – don’t carry extra, unwanted chemical changes. But the scientists also found that some types of cancer cells aren’t so selective. These cells incorporate chemically modified nucleosides into their DNA, which is toxic to them. The findings, published today in the journal Nature, indicate that it might be possible to use modified nucleotides for specific killing of cancer cells.

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