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Development of new co-therapy agents for improved cancer treatment

By Professor David Barker

Topoisomerases are enzymes that break and repair DNA as part of the normal cell division process. Chemotherapy drugs, called topoisomerase poisons, interfere with DNA repair and are often used in cancer treatments.

Unfortunately, cancer cells have an enzyme called TDP1 that reduces the effectiveness of these chemotherapy drugs. Consequently, it is proposed that if one also administered a drug that stops TDP1, in combination with these topoisomerase poisons, it would stop the repair of the cancer cell’s DNA. This would result in more effective killing of the cancer cells.

Researchers have recently discovered a type of drug that stops TDP1 and the preliminary experiments show that they increase the activity of currently used chemotherapy drugs. Based on this discovery, the funded research project aims to develop better drugs that target TDP1 to provide new, more effective chemotherapeutic treatment options.

Professor David Barker says: “Our ground-breaking research into the development of effective cancer treatments would not be possible without the support of the Cancer Society. We hope this research grant will enable us to improve the outcomes of cancer patients relying on chemotherapy and make a positive difference for the patients and their families who suffer from this disease.”

Funding: $150,000

David's team: Professor David Barker, Pi Pilkington, Researcher Natalie Haverkate and student Emily Dobbs