Could DNA repair become part of the cancer susceptibility toolkit?

Published:31 July 2018

Holly Hosking pictured in her lab at CQUni's CQIRP facility.

Genetic markers have proven useful for gauging a person's susceptibility to certain types of cancer but there could be another powerful assessment tool on the horizon.

CQUniversity PhD researcher Holly Hosking is on the cusp of a project evaluating the potential of using a person's rate of DNA repair as a guide to cancer susceptibility.

"Genetic testing can be useful to predict cancer susceptibility in some families, however, this is not the case for many cancer patients and their families." Ms Hosking says.

"We hope we can complement genetic testing or maybe even replace it by checking if the rate of DNA repair is a reliable guide to the likely onset of cancer."

Ms Hosking is working towards the participant recruitment phase of her study. She will seek out healthy participants with no family history of cancer and participants who have had cancer, or who have a strong family history of cancer.

Meanwhile, she is optimising her 'DNA repair test' in the laboratory.

"We take a blood sample, then separate out the white blood cells before introducing enough chemotherapy to damage the DNA but not kill the cells," Ms Hosking says.

"We can gauge the DNA double-strand breaks to track the ability of the cell to repair its DNA structure."

Ms Hosking is based at the Central Queensland Innovation and Research Precinct (CQIRP) across from CQUniversity Rockhampton North campus.