Dr Bongsup Cho offers an insight into his current research into environmentally-induced cancer, which will expose how aromatic amines mutate DNA and interfere with its repair mechanisms.
Could you brieﬂy describe your current research project?
Formation of aromatic amine-DNA adducts is believed to initiate cancer. We are concerned with elucidating the mechanisms by which amine-DNA lesions are replicated and repaired at both molecular and atomic levels.
What are aromatic amines and how do they contribute to the development of cancer in humans?
Aromatic amines belong to a nasty group of organic chemicals and have been implicated in the development of bladder, liver, and breast cancers in humans. Aromatic amines in their original formulation are not particularly harmful per se, but become chemically reactive electrophiles – electron deﬁ cient – upon metabolic activation in vivo. Some of these electrophiles can react with cellular DNA to form DNA adducts. Such DNA damage is found in human tumour tissue, indicating problems in DNA repair in cells, and is one of the early hallmarks of tumour development.