We all know that DNA is important for the survival of our species. But what are the benefits of DNA repair? How does it work? When is it used and how does this affect your life?
This article will answer these questions and more. We’ll discuss side effects, as well as provide a few examples of DNA repair in action!
DNA repair is the process by which one damaged DNA molecule can be matched with another copy to replace the missing or broken piece in order to restore it back into its original state.
It’s important to remember that the main benefit of DNA repair is that it keeps cells healthy by repairing damage caused to the genetic code that could lead to cancerous cells.
Benefits of DNA repair
The benefits of DNA Repair include:
- Protecting cells from mutating and becoming cancerous.
- Maintaining the integrity of our genetic code.
- Repairing mutations to keep them from multiplying and causing more damage that leads to cancerous cells.
DNA repair is basically the process of picking up where DNA replication left off. DNA replication is the process of copying the genetic code from one DNA molecule to another.
There are many different types of damage that can happen to the double helix, but there are two main ones: breaks in the strand and faulty bonds between bases. Both types of damage cause parts of our cells’ DNA molecules to become unreadable or not readable at all
It’s important for cells to be able to replicate their genetic code so that it can be copied and used to create proteins.
If a cell is unable to replicate its code, mutations will occur which could lead to cancerous cells.
What is DNA?
DNA is the acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, which are long strands of nucleotides that make up our genomes. The genome contains all of the information on how to create a human being and every other living organism.
DNA makes up everything from hair color to eye color. DNA is a long molecule, and it’s made up of two strands that run together in opposite directions to form a double helix. These strands both contain all the DNA information from one cell. The instructions for how cells work and grow come from this genetic code inside our cells’ nucleus. It’s what gives cells their instruction manual.
Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA. They are the molecules that contain a phosphate group, sugar molecule and nitrogenous base. The nucleotide bases can be adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) or cytosine (C).
The sequence is important because it contains all of our genetic information.
Is DNA repair possible?
DNA repair is possible. It’s a natural process that protects your DNA from the damage caused by various factors, including UV rays, alcohol and cigarette smoke residue.
DNA repair is a very complex, multistep process. It’s not fully understood how the different steps of DNA repair work together yet, but it likely begins with recognition of damage followed by excision from the molecule and then replacement of that part.
Sources of DNA Damage
Some of the sources of DNA damage that are most common include:
- UV light (from the sun or tanning beds). UV light damages DNA in a few different ways. One way is by breaking the chemical bonds within DNA strands, which disrupts their integrity and leads to mutations that can cause cancer.
- Exposure to certain chemicals (like pesticides, solvents and heavy metals). This exposure damages DNA by interacting with it, altering its structure.
- Exposure to radiation (like X-rays). This exposure can also damage DNA by interacting with it, including possibly causing mutations that result in cancer.
- Inflammation and natural cell processes like apoptosis (programmed cell death) or necrosis (uncontrolled cellular breakdown). These natural cell processes stresses the DNA and damages it.
- Regular tobacco smoking can cause lung cancer by causing mutations in cells of the lungs. Tobacco smoke is made up of more than 7000 chemicals. These chemicals can damage a person’s genetic material and lead to cell-damaging mutations.
- Being near a fire can cause damage to the DNA of cells in the lungs, skin or eyes and lead to mutations that could eventually result in cancer.
- Alcohol abuse – Alcohol breaks down our cells’ proteins in addition to damaging DNA directly.
- Cigarette smoke residue- The chemicals found in cigarette smoke are very difficult for
- The damage to the genetic material may lead to cancer or other diseases, depending on what’s being altered in the sequence of bases known as genes.
- Some cells can repair themselves from some types of injury (like UV light), but not others, like radiation-induced mutations
How do you know if DNA is damaged?
Some of the signs that DNA is damaged include:
- The production of an excessive number of “cells” in a tissue or organ.
- A higher than normal white blood cell count.
- Lack of hair growth, thinning hair and gray hairs.
Other signs of DNA damage are:
- Persistent pain in joints or muscles.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss without dieting, fatigue or fever.
- Aches in bones that don’t heal as quickly as they should.
You may also notice that your skin is developing wrinkles. Wrinkles are a sign of aging, which occurs as we live and grow older. But wrinkles may also be a sign of DNA damage.
If you notice any signs of DNA damage, be sure to speak with your doctor about what’s going on. Let your doctor know about any medicines you take, as well.
If your doctor suspects DNA damage, they may order a genetic test to measure the percentage of damaged cells in your tissue or organ (or bone marrow). Sometimes doctors will want to do more tests with samples taken from inside the body and then compare these results with those from blood outside the body.
Not all changes are bad. You may notice that the brown in your hair is getting lighter. This can be due to damage of melanin, which is a protein in skin and hair cells.
How is DNA damage recognized?
Damaged DNA is recognized by special proteins called nucleases. These proteins are able to identify changes in the genetic code, such as mutations or breaks that need repaired.
The presence of these types of changes can be a sign that something has gone wrong with your body’s ability to repair itself and this could lead to cancerous cells. Cancerous cells are formed when normal cells are damaged and can’t be repaired.
The nucleases find the damage in the DNA strand, cut it out of the double helix chain (known as excision), and then use complementary sequences to fill in where that sequence was removed.
This is called “homologous recombination.” Homologous recombination may also cause a mismatch, but these mismatches are typically repaired more quickly and efficiently.
What are the mechanisms of DNA repair?
When DNA damage occurs, the body has a number of strategies to counteract it. The two main mechanisms are Base Excision Repair (BER) and Nucleotide Excisional Repair (NER).
What is Base Excision Repair?
Base Excision Repair is one of the main forms of DNA repair. It removes damaged bases from single and double stranded breaks in both strands of an organism’s genome, so it repairs a large number of genomic lesions quickly to minimize damage that can lead to mutations.
The process of BER starts by recognizing that the repair needs to be done, then clipping fragments from either side of the break. Next, DNA polymerase comes in and copies any missing bases onto these newly created strands until it reaches a point where there are no more damaged bases left or its capacity is reached.
The last step of BER is to join the two newly made strands together and seal up any remaining small fragments.
What is Nucleotide Excisional Repair?
Nucleotide Excisional Repair removes the damage in a single strand by cutting out the segment that contains it and then filling in the gap with an exact copy from either side of where cuts were made to remove any damaged segments.
The process of NER is incredibly complex and it is still not fully understood. But basically, it works by locating the site of a damaged strand. This is usually done through what are called ‘lesions’ or weak spots in the DNA where its chemical bonds have been broken.
Reversal of DNA damage
It’s only been in the past decade that scientists have begun to understand how DNA repairs itself.
The first clue came from studying the damage caused by ionizing radiation, which is known to cause two types of lesions: breaks and deletions. Different proteins were needed for repairing these lesions, which led to the discovery of the two DNA repair pathways: Nucleotide excision repair (NER) and base-excision repair (BER).
Genomic maintenance and responses to DNA damage
The discovery of these pathways raised a new question: How does the cell decide which repair pathway to use? The answer came from discovering that there is another type of DNA damage, called an adduct (a chemical binding between two molecules), formed as a result of exposure to various environmental and lifestyle factors.
These environmental and lifestyle factors include UV light, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and alcohol, as well as things like diabetes. The adducts themselves trigger the nucleotide excision repair pathway response to DNA damage.
This is an important consideration because more than 60% of cancers are attributed to these environmental factors.
The NER mechanism recognizes many different types of lesions through a series of steps. The NER pathway recognizes errors in the DNA and uses an enzyme to cut out a section containing the error, called a lesion.
This mechanism can compare sections with similar sequences that are either before or after what it has just removed. If it finds one sequence is identical, then it knows the lesion has been removed.
There are some limitations to this process, however. It can’t repair anything larger than a few base pairs of DNA and often needs help from other mechanisms like translesional synthesis or homologous recombination in order to do so successfully.
These pathways also require many proteins to do their jobs. Lesions that are not close to each other on a strand of DNA can’t be repaired by NER, so there’s always the risk they’ll cause mutations and cancerous cells in the genome.
This process doesn’t work for anything larger than a few base pairs of DNA because it will sometimes cut out a piece of DNA that it’s not supposed to, and the next round will try fixing the problem which could result in more errors.
Translesional synthesis and homologous recombination
Translesional synthesis is not as reliable or effective as other repair methods. It allows the DNA strands to temporarily separate, and a new strand of DNA can be synthesized in between them. This type of repair requires that undamaged bases are present on both sides for the process to work properly.
Homologous recombination functions in a similar way to translesional synthesis, but it is much more effective. It takes two DNA strands and aligns them in such a way that they can be joined together. This type of repair also requires undamaged bases on both sides.
The main benefit of homologous recombination over other types of DNA repair is that it can correct much more severe types of damage.
Another type of repair, mismatch repair, helps to fix mistakes in the bases on one strand by using a matching strand as a template. This only works when both strands are undamaged and contain an identical sequence.
Mismatch repair is much less efficient than homologous recombination, and so it is more often employed when the other type of repair cannot be used.
Side effects of Base Excision Repair and Nucleotide Excisional Repair
The side effects of BER are not really well studied, but researchers have found that it is important to avoid drugs like barbiturates which can cause frequent DNA breaks. These drugs should be avoided because they can cause the DNA to be repaired in ways that lead to cancer.
The side effects of NER are minimal, but there is one potential problem: With time and age comes increased risk for cancer. If a person already has an accumulation of mutations on their genome from other sources (smoking cigarettes or radiation exposure) then these lesions could lead to new cancers starting up.
As a result of the cuts made during NER, it is possible for other mutations to happen. These conditions that could lead to mutation are related to where and how much damage was done in the cell as well as when DNA repair happens. The cells can either have too many breaks or not enough time for repairs because they divide quickly.
Is DNA repair natural?
DNA repair is a natural process that allows for the preservation of healthy DNA. Cells can recognize damage and will send out an enzyme to fix it using methods like base pairing, nucleotide excision or mismatch correction.
As well as being found in humans, DNA repair occurs naturally in bacteria and even some viruses. The process not only helps to maintain healthy cells, it also provides a level of protection against harmful substances.
There are many different ways that DNA repair can happen, so the method is not consistent across all cases. During NER, it is possible for other mutations to happen.
Can doctors perform DNA repair?
Doctors can perform DNA repair by introducing foreign genetic material into a cell. This is known as gene therapy and could be used to fix mutated cells that would then replace the old ones with healthy ones.
Gene therapy was developed in the 1970s and has had some success in treating diseases such as chronic granulomatous disease, beta thalassemia or hereditary hemochromatosis. Gene therapy was also successful in treating anemia, which is caused by a lack of the enzyme adenosine deaminase.
Even though gene therapy is not always successful, it’s still one of the best ways to cure or manage diseases.
When is gene therapy used?
Gene therapy is used to treat diseases that are caused by a genetic mutation.
Possible treatments for chronic granulomatous disease, beta thalassemia and hereditary hemochromatosis could be DNA repair with gene therapy. Chronic granulomatous disease is a rare defect of the immune system, beta thalassemia is a form of anemia caused by mutations in hemoglobin genes.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a disease that happens when too much iron builds up and causes organ damage. The most common symptom of HH is bronze skin color.
Gene therapy can be used to treat hereditary hemochromatosis by adding new genes that produce a protein called ferritin and limiting the amount of iron in the blood stream.
DNA repair may also be necessary for some people with damaged DNA due to radiation exposure or chemotherapy treatment, and it can help slow down aging by maintaining healthy cells that would otherwise die off.
Gene therapy is also used to treat cancer by replacing their mutated DNA with healthy cells that are resistant to the disease.
In this case, it’s often necessary for a patient to undergo chemotherapy first in order to destroy any existing unhealthy cells.
Gene therapy treatments are still considered experimental, but they have been safe and effective for some patients. Some examples of successful gene therapy treatment are for cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia or severe combined immunodeficiency.
Gene therapy can be risky, since the introduced gene may interfere with other genes and the cells. Potential side effects include lowering of immune response to infection or increased risk for cancer. That’s why it is only used in life-threatening diseases or when all other treatments have been exhausted.
Some patients have experienced long-term side effects that can include a higher risk of infections and an increased likelihood for cancer to develop in the receiving cells.
Gene therapy side effects are still being studied. No one knows how many years it will take until we know all about these risks and benefits.
DNA repair pathways as targets for cancer therapy
DNA repair pathways are targets for cancer therapy. Cancer cells can have mutations in their DNA repair mechanisms which allow them to resist chemotherapeutic drugs, leading to relapse of the disease or its progression within a few years from diagnosis.
In the NER pathway, if a lesion is close enough to another one on the same strand of DNA then it will be fixed by an enzyme called a nucleotide excision repair (NER) protein that recognizes and cuts out the damaged area from around the lesion. These cuts to the damaged area typically result in a scaffold of DNA that is then rejoined.
It has been shown that the NER pathway can be targeted by immunotherapy with newly developed drugs or vaccines, which block damaged cells from repairing themselves and killing them off at an accelerated rate because they are too busy trying to fix their own broken DNA.
Immunotherapy is the process of using the body’s immune system to fight a disease. Some examples of immunotherapy are vaccines, which stimulate the immune system to fight an infection.
Oral immunotherapy is shown in studies to be a promising treatment for peanut allergy by introducing gradually increasing amounts of peanuts into someone’s diet over time until they are able to eat up to 100 grams or more without reacting and can eventually build tolerance.
This type of therapy builds tolerance by exposing the immune system to a small amount of an allergen every day over time.
DNA repair enzymes
As mentioned, DNA is susceptible to damage by things such as environmental factors, certain foods and lifestyle choices. DNA repair enzymes are the molecules inside of cells that fix these damages.
There are two types of DNA repair: correction and excision. Correction repairs mistakes in the sequence of nucleotides forming long chains. DNA excision replaces a damaged segment of DNA with a healthy copy, which can be obtained from the cell’s nucleus or mitochondria.
It is important to note that there are two types of excision: global and localized (also known as homologous recombination).
In global excision, the entire segment of damaged DNA containing both strands gets replaced by another complete strand. This complete strand can be either from the nucleus or mitochondria.
In localized excision, a segment of damaged DNA containing only one strand gets replaced by another complete strand that is not present in the cell’s nucleus.
DNA repair enzymes are essential to maintain our cells and keep them healthy; however, there can be side effects as well. Some of these types of excisions result in inserting mutations, which can be harmful to the cell.
DNA repair in eukaryotes
Eukaryotes are organisms that have a membrane-bound nucleus in which their genetic material (DNA) is stored. These cells also contain organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, for energy production. DNA repair is required to maintain our cells’ integrity and avoid potentially hazardous mutations.
DNA repair impact factor
The impact factor for DNA repair is 11.705, which means it’s been cited over eleven thousand times in other scientific papers and has a high prestige score (a metric that reflects the number of citations an article or researcher receives).
The DNA repair impact factor is important because it shows how many other scientists are reading and citing this article.
What foods help repair DNA?
Foods that help repair DNA include: foods rich in Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and D. These foods help repair DNA by improving cell metabolism, healthy skin cells and protecting against cancer.
A few examples of foods that contain high levels of vitamin A are carrots or spinach. Bananas with skin have a good amount of the B complex
How can you prevent DNA damage?
To prevent DNA damage, it’s recommended to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. You should also eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Smoking can cause cancer due to the release of carcinogens into the body, which then attach themselves to cells in the lungs causing them to mutate. This leads to gene mutation and eventually cancerous growths on lungs when left untreated.
Smoking cigarettes has been shown to have a negative effect on the DNA repair process due to the release of carcinogens from smoked tobacco, which can work their way into cells causing them to mutate. The left-over nicotine residue that’s found in saliva after smoking also slows down cellular regeneration rates by preventing hemoglobin proteins
Alcohol use is also a major factor in DNA damage, specifically the liver and stomach cells within an individual which are both responsible for detoxifying alcohol from the body. Heavy drinking has been shown to have serious side effects on fetal development as well as long-term mental health issues that include anxiety, depression, dementia, and even cancer.
What are DNA Repair Supplements?
DNA repair supplements are typically in the form of a pill, powder, or liquid. These DNA repair products claim to contain many different types of ingredients that support healthy DNA and provide additional benefits such as quicker recovery from exercise, increased energy levels during workouts, reduced muscle soreness after intense physical activity (especially when combined with appropriate nutrition), and improved mental performance and focus.
There is limited evidence available that suggests DNA repair supplements may be beneficial to the body’s cells, but it remains unclear if these products have any effect on disease or how much of an impact they can make in terms of health outcomes. Additional research is needed before conclusions can be made about the efficacy of this product as a whole.
Do AC-11 supplements help with DNA repair?
Researchers are currently investigating the use of a new type of DNA repair supplement called AC-11. AC-11 is made from an extract found in the Andean medicinal plant Acmella oleracea, or chamomile maté tea.
AC-11 has been shown in some cases to reduce the negative effects of radiation.
AC-11 may also help repair damage caused by chemotherapy and aging.
AC-11 helps repair the DNA by supporting its self-repair mechanisms.
There are currently no known negative or adverse reactions to using an AC-11 supplement. It is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and those with a history of alcohol abuse.
AC-11 can be obtained through a doctor and is not currently available for purchase over the counter.
To be clear, AC-11 supplements are not yet approved for use in humans due to insufficient evidence; however, studies continue on this promising new DNA repair supplement.
Benefits of DNA repair supplements
Many of the benefits of AC-11 supplements are not fully understood, but early findings suggest that this supplement may increase lifespan and reduce certain diseases. If DNA repair is good for organisms because it can help protect them against free radicals, then AC-11 must be even better since it supports their natural mechanisms to heal themselves from damage caused by radiation
Direct reversal of DNA damage
AC-11 is a natural compound that has been shown to reverse direct types of DNA damage. For example, AC-11 was found effective in preventing the formation and spread of cancerous cells by repairing damaged chromosomes. This discovery implies that dietary supplementation with AC-11 may be an excellent preventive measure for people who have or are at risk of developing cancer.
Direct types of DNA damage include:
- DNA strand breaks and crosslinkages, which lead to chromosome abnormalities.
- Mutations in the genes themselves that can lead to cancerous cells.
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Your body’s DNA is important
Your body needs to maintain a high level of DNA repair because you have trillions of cells in your body.
If your levels are low, it can lead to various health problems or even death.
There are some things – such as smoking or drinking alcohol excessively – which will do damage to this vital system and cause more harm than good in the long run. It doesn’t take a genius to know that when you’re stressed, sick, or sleep-deprived your body is not going to be able to repair itself as easily.
It’s always important for the human body to have a good balance of sleep and stress relief because they are both essential in helping DNA self-repair.