The discovery of a universal panacea for cancer has always been a fundamental goal of 21st-century physicians. According to a study conducted at the Francis Crick Institute, DNA particles of ancient viruses can help the immune system successfully identify and even destroy tumors. In this case, how exactly can another breakthrough in medicine?
Popular in scientific circles magazine Genome Research claims that fragments of human DNA contain traces of so-called “endogenous retroviruses” that at one time brought a lot of trouble to our distant ancestors. For millions of years, our ancestors were vectors of countless different viruses, which led to the fact that information about them in the DNA of modern man now far exceeds the amount of information even about the person. It is known that approximately 8 percent of the entire human genome consists of viral DNA alone, while all known human genes are only 1-2 percent. The human body has been constantly subjected to evolutionary changes throughout its existence, gradually increasing its resistance to various types of viruses. However, when a cell turns into a cancer cell, some of its suppression mechanisms can fail by activating ancient viral DNA.
What are genes?
According to conventional wisdom, genes are fragments of DNA that contain complete instruction for the production of proteins that perform most of the most important functions in the cell or the body as a whole. Such instructions are translated into RNA molecules before proteins are obtained. At the same time, the process of transcription can be influenced by DNA located outside the gene, which is what some endogenous retroviruses use. samples of patients suffering from 31 different types of cancer, using a special technology called “RNASeq” that is able to read even short, seemingly random, fragments of RNA. The researchers used an algorithm to decode the material to make it prominent to the human immune system. As a result of the experiment, the researchers were able to identify 14 transcripts-potential candidates located in 8 different areas of the human genome capable of creating unique cancer antigens. Later, the researchers were able to narrow their numbers, leaving only nine unique peptides that could easily be detected by the immune system.
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If so, the study could form the basis of future progressive cancer treatments that will include a kind of vaccination of the human immune system in order to recognize and successfully attack cancer cells.