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Results from A-T Society funded study into new target for A-T therapy published

Results from an A-T Society funded study looking into synthetic viability as a potential treatment for A-T have recently been published in Nature Communications. The study was funded by the A-T Society, with the generous support of the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

Synthetic viability is a novel approach to treating genetic disorders, in which the damage caused by one malfunctioning gene is reduced by ‘switching off’ another gene. Mutations in the ATM gene, which are found in various cancers, are also responsible for ataxia telangiectasia (A-T). ATM loss or mutation causes hypersensitivity to various DNA-damaging agents, including those used in chemotherapy. This study, carried out by Dr Josep Forment at the Steve Jackson laboratory in Cambridge, sought to explore how inactivating certain genes make ATM-deficient cells more resistant to DNA damage.

Study supervisor Steve Jackson said: ‘My colleagues and I are immensely grateful to the A-T Society for helping support our research here at the University of Cambridge. We are also delighted that this work has recently been accepted for publication in the prestigious international journal, Nature Communications. Our work has identified several genes which, when mutated, alleviate the DNA-damage sensitivity of A-T cells. In addition to providing insights into ATM protein function and A-T biology, our findings suggests new opportunities for alleviating aspects of A-T, and we are now exploring this potential with our ongoing studies.’

The full paper is freely available on the Nature Communications website here.