Modulating DNA repair mechanisms is the key to synthetic lethal therapies for cancer and autoimmune disease
In contrast to other therapies which ablate the target’s activity (e.g. kinase inhibitors), the key to targeting DNA repair is modulation instead of elimination. By precisely altering or slightly reducing specific DNA repair mechanism it is possible to induce target cells with genetically defined gain-of-function abnormalities, and induce them to self-destruct without harming healthy tissues. This works because cells with certain gain-of-function abnormalities experience far more DNA damage than normal cells, and are thus exquisitely sensitive to small changes in DNA repair activity.
Cyteir’s scientists have been at the forefront in developing this new therapeutic strategy for targeting DNA repair. Our lead program targets RAD51, an DNA repair protein that is crucial for the survival of cells with gain-of-activity in AID, an enzyme that causes DNA damage.