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Targeting cancer's 'Achilles heel'

Researchers have developed an effective new strategy for treating cancer, which has wiped out the disease to near completion in cellular cultures in the laboratory. The treatment works by controlling chromatin, a group of macromolecules -- including DNA, RNA and proteins -- that houses genetic information within cells and determines which genes get suppressed or expressed. In the case of cancer, chromatin has the ability to regulate the capacity of cancer cells to find ways to adapt to treatment by expressing genes that allow the cancer cells to become resistant to treatment. The researchers' solution alters chromatin's structure in a way that prevents cancer from evolving to withstand treatment, making the disease an easier target for existing drugs. If the cells cannot evolve to resist chemotherapy, for example, they die. After having shown great potential to fight cancer in cellular cultures, the treatment is now undergoing studies in an animal model.

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