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Researchers pinpoint protein involved in cancer cell death

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MIT researchers may have discovered a key protein involved in cell death--one that could help kill remaining cancer cells after chemotherapy. Intense chemotherapy can lead to DNA damage, which causes cells to undergo programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis. But cancer cells are often resistant to these signals and can live on after chemo drugs have done their damage on DNA. The MIT team found that the protein--ALKBH7--plays a central role in controlling an alternative death pathway, called programmed necrosis. Scientists postulate that drugs imitating this protein could spur apoptosis-resistant cancer cells into necrosis instead. The study was published in the online edition of the journal Genes & Development. Abstract | Release

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