The concept of synthetic lethality was first derived from genetic studies in model organisms, where mutation of a particular gene results in lethality only through mutation or loss of another gene.
The co-founders of MISSION, along with their colleagues and collaborators, developed the idea of synthetic lethality as an anticancer concept, to selectively kill tumour cells deficient in certain DNA repair pathways (Farmer et al. and Bryant et al., Nature, 2005). Tumourigenesis is a process where cells become genomically unstable, leading to mutations in key regulatory proteins such as those involved in DDR/DNA repair. This causes cancer cells to become reliant, or addicted, to remaining DNA repair pathways, which may vary between tumour types. By targeting those DDR pathways that tumours have become reliant on, MISSION is establishing new approaches to selectively kill cancer cells with little toxicity to normal cells.