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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Scientists hail DNA repair study
Enzyme image
One of the images used by the research team
Research into how the human body repairs damaged DNA has been described as a "major breakthrough".

The way that cells protect themselves from diseases like cancer has been the focus of a study by scientists at Dundee and Leeds Universities.

They used special x-rays to build 3D pictures of a particular enzyme, which recognises and fixes damaged DNA.

The researchers used the images to get a better understanding of how the process works.

The team studied an enzyme, known as T7 endonuclease 1, which played a central role in identifying damaged or "branched" DNA.

'New insight'

The scientists said it was only DNA repair that stopped people from contracting cancer on a regular basis.

They said the research represented a major breakthrough in investigating how DNA was formed and replicated by viruses.

Professor David Lilley from Dundee University said: "This is a big step forward, and provides great new insight into the recognition of branched DNA.

"The new structural knowledge will provide considerable impetus to take this field further."

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