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The role and clinical significance of DNA damage response and repair pathways in primary brain tumors

Wil L Santivasi and Fen Xia*

Author Affiliations

Department of Radiation Oncology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, 072A Starling Loving Hall, 300 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

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Cell & Bioscience 2013, 3:10  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-3-10

Published: 6 February 2013


Primary brain tumors, in particular, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), continue to have dismal survivability despite advances in treating other neoplasms. The goal of new anti-glioma therapy development is to increase their therapeutic ratios by enhancing tumor control and/or decreasing the severity and incidence of side effects. Because radiotherapy and most chemotherapy agents rely on DNA damage, the cell’s DNA damage repair and response (DRR) pathways may hold the key to new therapeutic strategies. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) generated by ionizing radiation and chemotherapeutic agents are the most lethal form of damage, and are repaired via either homologous recombination (HR) or non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways. Understanding and exploitation of the differences in the use of these repair pathways between tumor and normal brain cells will allow for an increase in tumor cell killing and decreased normal tissue damage. A literature review and discussion on new strategies which can improve the anti-glioma therapeutic ratio by differentially targeting HR and NHEJ function in tumor and normal neuronal tissues is the focus of this article.

Brain tumor; DNA repair; DNA damage; Homologous recombination (HR); Non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ)