Biochemists at Southampton University are tracing the DNA "footprints" left by anti-cancer drugs to find out more about how the drugs prevent the growth of cells. The technique of DNA footprinting uses the fragments of DNA left behind after the drugs have interacted with the DNA in the body's cells. Anti-tumour agents work by binding to DNA, preventing its replication and thus stopping the cell from further dividing and growing.
"Understanding how and where these agents bind on to the DNA molecules is crucial for designing new compounds with improved anti-tumour activity," said Keith Fox, who is leading the research. Most previous studies have only looked at how anti-tumour agents bind to "naked" DNA, but Dr Fox and his team intend to investigate the binding of agents on to DNA in conditions that are closer to those in living cells.