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"Super Drug" Targets Disease-Causing Gene

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have developed a "super drug" which could one day combat diverse diseases like diabetes//, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. The drug, Dz13, can be used to treat vision loss caused by aging as well, the researchers claimed. Also diseases like heart attacks and inflammation can be contained, they said in a paper published in the latest issue of the journal, Nature Biotechnology. "Our experimental drug Dz13 is like a secret agent that finds its target, c-Jun, within the cell and destroys it," said lead researcher Levon Khachigian, a molecular biologist. The drug works by turning off a disease-causing gene called c-Jun, which is found in diseased blood vessels, eyes, lungs, joints and in the gut. The researchers said animal trials had shown great results. "We're talking about a therapy but whether or not it's a cure remains to be seen," Prof Khachigian said. The drug will be tested at a skin cancer clinical trial next year. Speaking about the research, Professor Bernard Stewart, head of the cancer control program at South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health Service said it was a milestone. "It's simple to design drugs on paper that will stop any one of the tens, if not hundreds, of genes that are known to be wrong in cancer," Prof Stewart said. He added that if the drug works in the skin cancer trial, it would be a boon for cancer sufferers, "Conventional chemotherapy works but at a very grim cost in respect of quality of life," Prof Stewart said.

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