Scientists Suggest That Extrachromosomal DNA Could Eventually Transform Cancer Treatment
Introductory comments: The discovery of the structure of DNA is a complicated one. In 1943 Oswald Avery proved that DNA, a nucleic acid, carries genetic information. Yet it was still unknown how it worked. In the early 1950s, Rosalind Franklin at King’s College London; beamed x-rays through the DNA molecule yielding a shadow picture of the molecule structure. Shortly after seeing Franklin’s images James Watson and Francis Crick realized that the DNA molecule was made up of two chains of nucleotides paired in such a way to form a double helix, similar to a spiral staircase. They published an article describing their findings in the journal Nature in 1953. For their discovery, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins (who worked with Franklin) received the Nobel Prize in 1962. Rosalind Franklin was not named as a prize winner since she had died four years earlier of cancer at the age of 37 (the Nobel Prize is only given to the living). Several days ago, I noticed an article in a British newspaper suggesting that DNA outside of the chromosome could potentially transform cancer treatment.
As opposed to summarizing the scientific findings, I have elected to use some rather new technology to generate this post. The technology is called ChatGPT. It was developed by a company called OpenAI. GPT is an acronym for generative pre-trained transformer, whereas AI of course stands for artificial intelligence. ChatGPT is likely within a very short time to dramatically affect the way you search the Internet. ChatGPT has been used to create written content as well as augment previously written content. However, not everything comes up roses. It has been used to create malware, cheat in school, take jobs of writers (some may argue as to whether this is good or bad) as well as phishing and scamming. Nonetheless, the applications of this technology are endless. To that end, what you’ll read below regarding extrachromosomal DNA was written entirely by ChatGPT.
Extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) is a type of genetic material that can exist in the form of circular or linear DNA molecules outside the main chromosomal DNA in a cell. Recent research has shown that ecDNA is commonly found in cancer cells, and plays an important role in the development and progression of many types of cancer.
EcDNA can carry amplified copies of genes that are critical for cancer growth and survival, such as oncogenes, which are genes that promote cancer formation, and drug resistance genes which allow cancer cells to evade chemotherapy and other treatments. EcDNA can also rapidly change in number and composition, which allows cancer cells to quickly adapt to changing environments and resist treatment.
The presence of ecDNA in cancer cells has important implications for cancer treatment. Targeting ecDNA and the genes it carries can potentially offer a new therapeutic strategy for treating cancer. For example, targeting oncogenes carried on ecDNA can selectively kill cancer cells without affecting normal cells, while targeting drug resistance genes on ecDNA can sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy and other treatments.
In summary, ecDNA plays a critical role in cancer development and progression, and targeting ecDNA can potentially provide new treatment options for cancer patients.
Alan Stolier and ChatGPT
Dr. Alan Stolier, MD, FACS, clinical breast oncologist, shares his expert medical perspective with a series of educational and scientific articles.