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‘Double-agent’ molecules could undermine cancer

Professor Pascal Meier and his team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London are using their new Worldwide Cancer Research grant to investigate if cell molecules which normally support cancer growth could be persuaded to switch to work against cancer.

They propose that small molecules called cytokines, which are known to trigger cell inflammation and can drive tumour growth, might be exploited to kill cancer cells. But first they need to find out much more, and this is where our funding comes in.

With his award of £220,746, Professor Meier will be able to use a range of techniques, including single-molecule super high-resolution imaging. This is an extremely high-tech microscope method which allows scientists to follow the tiny movements of individual molecules inside cells.

The enormous potential of this technique was recognized earlier this year when three scientists who helped to develop it were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014. Professor Meier hopes super high-resolution imaging and other techniques will help him to understand exactly how cytokine activity can be diverted to favour cancer cell death.

More about Professor Meier's project can be found here.