Scientists at the Garwan Institute for Medical Research in Australia have found that cancer cells can become resistant to treatment with mutations affecting the mechanism of DNA copying. An article revealing the secret of the emergence of incurable forms of tumors is published in the journal Science.
It turned out that a wide range of cancers, including melanoma, pancreatic cancer and sarcoma, generate a large number of errors when copying DNA. According to the researchers, this is a fundamental survival strategy that malignant neoplasms use to develop resistance to a wide variety of treatment methods. Scientists have found that the process of accumulation of mutations is activated precisely at the beginning of therapy, even if it does not directly affect DNA.
The key role in this mechanism is played by the mTOR gene, which takes part in ensuring the cell response to stress factors. When this gene is blocked, the cells stop growing, however, the regulation of other genes responsible for the restoration and copying of DNA changes. The frequency of mutations increases, which ultimately lead to resistance to treatment. When the tumor becomes resistant to therapy, this mechanism is turned off, and DNA copying again occurs with the same accuracy.