Scientists have figured out how to save the children-«vampires» from the light of the Sun

© Photo : Tom Ellenberger, Washington University School of Medicine in St. LouisТак the artist imagined the process of repair of single breaks in the DNA helixScientists have figured out how to save the children-«vampires» from the light of the Sun© Photo : Tom Ellenberger, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Scientists accidentally discovered that acetohexamide, experimental cure for diabetes, could save the lives of children-«vampires» with a very rare genetic disease that makes the ultraviolet radiation of the Sun is deadly to them, according to a paper published in the journal Molecular Cell.

«This discovery is interesting not only for studying how our cells cope with damage to DNA, but also for the reason that it can pave the way for saving lives of people suffering from this terrible disease. Other methods of dealing with it today, unfortunately, does not exist», — said Abdelgani Mazouzi (Abdelghani Mazouzi) from the Center of molecular medicine of the Academy of Sciences of Austria in Vienna.

A very small number of people on Earth, about one million inhabitants in Europe, America and Asia, suffers from a very unusual disease, opened in the late 19th century. She today considers the part of biologists and historians, was the cause of almost all the legends about vampires, «the walking dead» and other mythical creatures that attack people at night and dying upon contact with sunlight.

We are talking about the so-called pigment-pigmentosum – a rare genetic disease that occurs as a result of damage in the genes DDB, XPA and ERCC some other parts of the genome. They are all connected with the breakdown of minor damages in the DNA that occur when a single breaks and mutations in the double helix, associated with the collision of ultraviolet rays with the «bricks» of the genetic code and with other molecules in the cell.

These small mutations make sunlight deadly to such people, as even a short walk on the street can cause mass destruction of skin cells and lead to the development of the most aggressive forms of melanoma and other cancers. As a rule, carriers of these genes do not survive to 18 years, which they are often called «kids of the moon» or simply «vampires.»

Masozi and his colleagues accidentally discovered the first drug that can save the lives of these people, checking out how the various drugs created in recent years to combat other diseases, act on cells of children with»vampires».

In total, scientists were able to find 40 of drugs, defended at least 40% of the cells from death, most effective of which unexpectedly acetohexamide, experimental cure for type II diabetes, causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin.

Further experiments with acetohexamide have shown that this substance does not block ultraviolet light in itself, and causes interesting changes in genes involved in repairing mutations in DNA. These changes allow the cell to «bypass» the problems that arose due to the failure of the main system fixed small «typo» in a genome.

In particular, a cure of diabetes, as found Masozi and his colleagues, destroys molecules of the enzyme MUTYH, one of the key components of repair DNA that is damaged in the cells of children with»vampires». The loss of this protein causes the cell to switch to other methods of correcting a single mutation that protects them from mass death after brief irradiation with ultraviolet light.

This is supported by the fact that the same effect can be achieved simply by removing the gene that contains instructions for the Assembly of molecules MUTYH. In the near future, scientists plan to conduct a series of new experiments that will help them to understand why MUTYH «prevents» repairing DNA in the cells of the victims pigmentosum, and to find more effective methods to fight this disease.