Researchers at Kanazawa University, Japan, have discovered a novel DNA molecule that can inhibit cancerous growth by preventing the breakdown of Vitamin D. The molecule, Apt-7 – a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can bind to other molecules and show anti-cancerous effects. It inhibits the production of the CYP24 enzyme, a protein involved in Vitamin D3 breakdown.
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Previous research has shown that Vitamin D3 helps in building strong bones, but it also displays anti-cancer properties. High levels of it are associated with vigorous and faster recovery of cancer patients.
Additionally, it has been spotted as a significant target for cancer treatment due to its relationship with tumour development and progression. Evidence-based research has shown that cancerous cells use this vitamin differently compared to normal cells. Preventing the breakdown of Vitamin D can reduce tumour growth. Further, low levels of CYP24 enzyme are also significant in killing cancer cells.
Inhibiting Vitamin D Breakdown to Combat Cancer
Researchers were focussing on developing molecules that can either reduce CYP24 enzyme production or inhibit Vitamin D breakdown. However, these developments were obstructed by poor drug efficacy and unexpected side effects. During the experiment, the team analysed 18 different DNA molecules and chose the Apt-7 DNA molecule. It only binds with the CYP24 enzyme and does not hamper the CYP271B gene involved in the production of Vitamin D3. After this, two experiment simulations were conducted to check the levels of the vitamin. Each simulation had CYP24 enzyme and Vitamin D3 either in the absence or presence of Apt-7. As expected, higher levels of Vitamin D3 were seen in Apt-7 simulations. The team used high-end microscopic images to verify the results. These images could determine the bonding of CYP24 and Apt-7.
“Apt-7 could be a promising lead candidate for anticancer therapy,” said Assistant Professor Madhu Biyani from the WPI Nano Life Science Institute at Kanazawa University.
At last, the team injected the molecule into the cancerous cells to evaluate the anti-cancerous properties of Apt-7. These cells produced high amounts of CYP24. The presence of Apt-7 molecules reduced the activity levels of CYP24.
Fighting cancer can be difficult as it can arise due to genetic mutation or any other existing disease. There is an urgent need to create strategies that can target different aspects of cancer growth to destroy it from the root. According to the research team, this method can revolutionize conventional cancer therapy methods.
The study has been in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
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