Scientists from the University of North Carolina publish in ‘Nature’ a key finding that could transform the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. The study, led by Gaorav Gupta, reveals how a signaling pathway essential for the inflammatory immune response, cGAS-STING, is activated to prevent cancer formation by detecting DNA damage within cells. The results present the “key” to activate this essential pathway for the inflammatory immune response. The research highlights how the enzyme cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) plays a crucial role in detecting DNA damage and releasing histones, allowing the activation of the immune system. “Our results suggest that the loss of this pathway may allow breast cancer cells to resist high levels of DNA damage without being recognized by the immune system,” says Gupta. Related News ABC AWARDS HEALTH standard No How to hunt cancer before it gives symptoms Javier Palomo The oncological hyper-early diagnosis and prevention unit at the HM Hospital is the first of its kind in Europe. It uses traditional screening tests and the most modern molecular diagnostic tests. The key to releasing cGAS turned out to be the enzyme MRE11, known to detect and repair DNA damage. The connection between MRE11 and cGAS also activates a specialized form of cell death called necroptosis, facilitating the elimination of damaged precancerous cells before they turn into cancer. Clinical trials The team is translating this data into clinical trials in patients to examine the combination of radiation and immunotherapy in the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. The expectation is to understand how the pathway responds to these therapies and whether clinical outcomes can be improved. This promising discovery marks a significant step in the search for more effective treatments for breast cancer and highlights the importance of understanding the molecular complexities to improve the immune response against cancer cells.