LEUKAEMIA HALTED IN MICE
Designer molecules that destroy a type of leukaemia cell in culture have now been shown successfully to treat the malignant disease in mice. The 'ribozyme' kills these abnormal cells and prevents them from spreading by breaking a specific RNA link. This success raises the possibility of using it to treat human sufferers - perhaps by purging self-transplanted bone marrow of tumour cells.
In a Brief Communication this week (Nature, Vol. 406, Issue 6795, pp 473-474, August 3, 2000), Kazunari Taira of the University of Tokyo and colleagues describe how the ribozyme completely inhibits tumour-cell infiltration in mice with chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML).
Two groups of mice were injected with CML cells with or without the ribozyme: those treated with cells not containing the designer molecule all died. The researchers dub their novel ribozyme a 'maxizyme'. When its two sensor arms identify the abnormal target RNA sequences, the molecule changes shape and forms a cavity that binds the magnesium needed to help break the bond. The CML cell then self-destructs.
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