Cancer treatment could be aided by the discovery of a protein complex, which has been identified as having a crucial role in DNA repair.
Scientists at the University of Michigan established that the three-protein DNA repair complex MRN is needed to ensure that gene-shuffling is able to occur.
However, if mistakes are made in the repair of a gene break this can cause cancer to develop, experiments on mice revealed.
Dr David Ferguson, the study's senior author and assistant professor of pathology at the U-M Medical School, commented: "Class switch recombination represents a double-edged sword, being necessary for immune system function, but known to cause cancer when mistakes are made.
"We now understand that Mre11 and the MRN complex as a whole lie in the middle of this delicate balance."
DNA repair may be necessary in the event that environmental factors or metabolic processes in the cell cause damage.
Independent advice on private healthcare