An Alternative Pathway to Kill Cancer Cells

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Submitted by Jennifer Jordan and Dragony Fu

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Many cells undergo programmed cell death after suffering irreparable amounts of DNA damage. Numerous anti-cancer drugs induce programmed cell death by acting as DNA damaging agents. However, cancer cells can frequently circumvent the major programmed cell death pathway of apoptosis, thereby diminishing the effectiveness of anti-cancer chemotherapy. We have recently identified a key protein named ALKBH7 that is required for an alternative cell death pathway known as programmed necrosis. In this image, we show that ALKBH7 (green) is found in the mitochondria (red), the major energy producing factory in the cell. By localizing to the mitochondria, ALKBH7 presents a new target for therapeutic intervention to kill cancer cells that are resistant to apoptotic cell death.