Communicating complexity with clarity

At nspm, we understand the importance of knowledge and of delivering accurate medical information to healthcare professionals, patients, and anyone interested in staying informed about the latest medical developments. We use our expertise to break down complex scientific concepts into easily understandable language. Our goal is to create scientifically accurate and meaningful content that is engaging and appropriate for the audience. In this first in a series of articles, we asked Senior Medical Writer Kai Neelsen to offer a summary of his postdoctoral research.

Intelligent cell division

During my time conducting research at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen, I worked alongside esteemed colleagues Jiri Lukas and Julian Spies. Together, we made an exciting discovery regarding the body’s ability to protect itself against diseases such as cancer.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells, each containing an exact copy of our DNA. Every time a cell divides, new copies of the DNA are produced by a process called DNA replication. During DNA replication, errors can occur, opening the door for diseases such as cancer. In our research, we discovered a cellular machinery that allows cells to repair such errors before they are passed on to future generations of cells.

We were able to identify how a mother cell shields damaged DNA from being passed on to their daughter cells: the mother cell surrounds the damaged DNA with a protein called 53BP1. 53BP1 shields the DNA and delays its replication until the cell is ready to repair the error in the DNA. We also identified the enzyme responsible for this repair – RAD52.

While further research is necessary to fully understand how RAD52 is regulated, our discovery made significant strides in our understanding of how the body protects itself against cancer and other diseases. In fact, we believe that incorporating the RAD52 enzyme into current cancer-fighting proteins could improve cancer treatments and even serve as a basis for the development of new drugs.

To read the full publication (access required), visit the Nature Cell Biology journal website