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From the College of Natural Sciences
Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a large family of reverse transcriptases (RTs)—enzymes that are found in all organisms and have been extensively studied for more than 50 years—have the previously unsuspected ability to repair DNA damage. The discovery makes them a potential new drug target that might be exploited to block cancer cells from developing resistance to radiation and chemotherapy drugs. The findings were published today in the journal Cell.

Enzymes in a large family called group II intron-like RTs have 3D structures that are remarkably similar, which suggests they share the ability to help repair double-strand DNA breaks. This image is a superposition of two of these enzymes: G2L4 and GsI-IIC RT. Their shared (or conserved) structures are in alternating green and gray. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.
UT Researchers Aim to Change the Cancer Equation

UT Researchers Aim to Change the Cancer Equation

During the past 50 years, clinical advances have substantially reduced the mortality rate for people with cancer, but new breakthroughs often require years of trial and error in the lab. An innovative partnership between The University of Texas at Austin's Machine Learning Lab, Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and Dell Medical School aims to speed up those discoveries, saving lives in the process.

Innovative Cancer Research Bolstered by Grants from CPRIT

Innovative Cancer Research Bolstered by Grants from CPRIT

A slice through a cluster of about 20 human cells with mitochondria highlighted as green and red dots. Image courtesy of Lulu Cambronne/University of Texas at Austin.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently awarded grants to six faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin, including Xioalu "Lulu" Cambronne in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. The funding will support ongoing, innovative cancer research at UT Austin and enable advances in immunotherapy, drug development and cancer prevention efforts.

New Tumor Cell Tracking System Aims to Understand Cancer Treatment Resistance

New Tumor Cell Tracking System Aims to Understand Cancer Treatment Resistance

HeLa cells, a cancerous cell line used by researchers around the world to study a large variety of important research questions. Photo credit: Tom Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research. Photo courtesy of NIH.

Despite tremendous advances in medicine, tumors are challenging to cure because they are made up of heterogeneous cells. In other words, like human families, the individual cells of a tumor share some common traits and characteristics, but as the tumor expands, the cells also develop their own identities. And, as a result, some cells are more resistant to therapy than others and quicker to adapt and change.

MasSpec Pen Shows Promise in Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

MasSpec Pen Shows Promise in Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

Jialing Zhang demonstrates using the MasSpec Pen on a human tissue sample. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

A diagnostic tool called the MasSpec Pen has been tested for the first time in pancreatic cancer patients during surgery. The device is shown to accurately identify tissues and surgical margins directly in patients and differentiate healthy and cancerous tissue from banked pancreas samples.

Why Some Cancers May Respond Poorly to Key Drugs Discovered

Why Some Cancers May Respond Poorly to Key Drugs Discovered

Patients with BRCA1/2 mutations are at higher risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancers that can be aggressive when they develop – and, in many cases, resistant to lifesaving drugs. Now scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Ajou University in South Korea have identified a driver of the drug resistance that can make a life or death difference for patients with these cancers.

State Cancer Research Grant Awarded to Molecular Bioscientist

State Cancer Research Grant Awarded to Molecular Bioscientist

Cancer research is getting a boost at The University of Texas at Austin as researchers in the College of Natural Sciences and Dell Medical School received grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Prestigious NSF CAREER Awards

Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Prestigious NSF CAREER Awards

Two faculty members from the College of Natural Sciences have received distinguished Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards totaling $1,075,000 over 5 years from the National Science Foundation.

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

The drug candidate, called OxaliTEX, is made of two parts: a star-shaped molecule (blue) called texaphyrin that acts like a kind of delivery truck and a modified version of a platinum drug (red) that acts like a toxic package for cancer cells. Illustration credit: iQ Group Global.

​A drug candidate has been found in preclinical trials to stop tumor growth entirely, deliver more cancer-busting power than many commonly used chemotherapy drugs and do so with fewer toxic side effects and more ability to overcome resistance.

Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison

Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison


How does a poor kid from tiny Alice, Texas grow up, go to a top research university, patiently pursue a new treatment for cancer that all the experts call crazy, and end up leading a revolution in cancer therapeutics that has already saved countless lives? Oh, and somehow manage to play harmonica with Willie Nelson and win a Nobel Prize too?