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A new way to diagnose and prevent squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a group of cancers that originate in cells forming the surface of the skin and lining the internal walls of our organs, respiratory tract and digestive tract. Collectively, these cancers represent the second largest number of cancers worldwide. Many of these cancers are treated successfully in the early stages of the disease, but if diagnosed late, SCC can be much more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Dr Markus Schober at New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA, is uncovering the molecular secrets that allow healthy cells to make the switch to becoming SCC cells. His team are particularly interested in how the cells “rewire” themselves into a state that helps them become cancer cells. Once revealed, this knowledge could lead to new ways to improve the early diagnosis and prevention of SCC.

STEM Women in Science Day

Today, 11th February 2016, has been declared the inaugural International Day for Women and Girls in Science.  A day we are embracing here at Worldwide Cancer Research as we are funding almost 50 outstanding female researchers all over the world.

These include Professor Kairbaan (Kebs) Hodivala-Dilke at Barts Cancer Institute in London, England (pictured above) who has just started her grant, testing a dual combination therapy for pancreatic cancer, which she developed with a previous grant from us.  She explains “This dual approach can improve the delivery of Gemcitabine (a chemotherapy often given to patients) to pancreatic cancer with mutations in a subset of genes.  It also helps the Gemcitabine work more effectively in the cancer cells so that we can reduce its dose and therefore reduce side effects, whilst still improving survival.  I want to extend these studies to pancreatic cancer with other genetic mutations and investigate whether this strategy can improve the effect of other commonly used chemotherapies.  I have high hopes that our data will provide new information that will help us to treat pancreatic cancer better, hopefully in the not too distant future.”

We are also funding Dr Kate Sutherland at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia who is trying to identify what drives lung squamous cell carcinoma. And Dr Eunhee Kim at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, USA is studying genetic changes in leukaemia.  Dr Kim told us “To me, this project is really exciting because uncovering how certain mutations drive cancer may give rise to opportunities for a new therapeutic approach for leukaemia.”

We are pleased to be funding so many women in science and hope that today raises the awareness that is needed to ensure the next generation of scientists contains even more women.