Milan, April 24 - Milan medical researchers have identified a protein that guides the process of repairing errors during DNA replication, creating new hope for future treatment of cancer and other illnesses stemming from genetic dysfunction. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Milan, with the collaboration of the University of Zurich, with lead authors Marco Muzi Falconi, Paolo Plevani and Federico Lazzaro, was published in Molecular Cell magazine. Tissue and organ formation need complete copies of all genetic information contained in DNA be passed down faithfully from parent cells to their offspring cells - a replication process that requires extreme precision. The precision of genetic duplication is ensured by a specific repair mechanism called DNA mismatch repair (MMR), which identifies any errors, such as omissions or erroneous insertion, and corrects them. Alterations to MMR has been found to be behind genetic predispositions to intestinal cancer and other tumours. Using human and yeast cells, the researchers identified the mechanism that informs MMR where to repair the error. A protein called RNasi H2 plays a central role in the process by cutting the DNA chain near the error, which allows the MMR to remove the erroneous information and substitute it with correct information. "This discovery could have an important impact on research for new anti-tumour pharmaceuticals and for the development of new chemotherapy strategies," the researchers said. "But the work seems to open prospects also in a second direction. Poor functioning of the RNasi H2 protein causes the well known genetic pathology Aicardi-Coutieres Syndrome, the mechanism of pathogenisis of which is still unknown," the researchers added. "Further research could verify whether the process identified by the work just published is connected with the onset (of the disease)," the researchers concluded.