February 26, 2021

Major advances in cells undergoing chemotherapy are discovered in the Canary Islands – La Provincia

Researchers of the Our Lady of Candelaria University Hospital, in Tenerife, assigned to the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands, have discovered that cells undergoing chemotherapy slow their growth transiently in the last phase of cell division, known as telophase. It is a new behavior in the cells subjected to treatments of radiotherapy and chemotherapy that to date had not been observed.

The results will help the scientific community to better understand what happens to both healthy and cancerous cells when they receive antitumor treatment. A study that, in addition, could open new avenues of investigation to design better therapies, more effective and with less side effects.

According to the doctor in Biology Félix Machín, principal investigator and coordinator of the Group of Cancer and Genetic Instability of the Research Unit of the University Hospital Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, "in this work it is revealed that oncological treatments cause the cells in telophase to reverse in the separation of your DNA, a process that until now was considered irreversible. "

In this sense, he explains that "if these findings are corroborated in the future and extend to other cell types could force review of one of the core principles of Cell Biology."

This finding, led by researcher Félix Machín, has been published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, under the title DNA double-strand breaks in telophase lead to coalescence between segregated sister chromatid loci ; a work done entirely in this hospital center and also signed by the predoctoral student of the University of La Laguna Jessel Ayra Plasencia.

Three years of study

The research published in Nature Communications details the results of a project started three years ago that originally tried to understand a paradox in the standard model that explains why cancer cells are more sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy than those that are healthy.

"This paradox occurs just at the end of the cycle of cell division (telophase), at the moment when a cell is about to finish making a copy of itself," says Félix Machín.

For this, the Group of Cancer and Genetic Instability of the Research Unit of the University Hospital Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Tenerife, recreated a cell model with yeasts, capable of synchronizing in telophase before being undergoing oncological therapies.

"In principle, the cycle of division of a cell into two cells is a process that is believed to only go in one direction, always forward, and that could not go back," says Machín. "We show that if we treat the cells with antitumor therapy just at the end of the cell cycle, the cells give a small but important step back, which allows them to repair the damage caused by the treatment and survive."

Regarding the clinical repercussions that may arise as a result of this finding, Félix Machín is more cautious, because "although he does not know what direct and immediate applications the observed response may have, he does notice that with this article part of the molecular machinery is identified what allows the cells to reverse the separation of their chromosomes. "

The investigation carried out by the Group of Cancer and Genetic Instability of the Research Unit of the University Hospital Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, It has been financed by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the State Program of R + D + i, co-financed in turn by European Funds (Feder).

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