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Confirming ERK5 as a good future drug target for skin cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Cathy Tournier
  • Institution: University of Manchester, England
  • Award Amount: £236,920 for 3 years from 1st October 2015
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
Confirming ERK5 as a good future drug target for skin cancer
Dr Tournier is studying how cells of the immune system are hijacked by cancer to help tumours grow and thinks she might have found a way to block this.  “Recently we started to understand how important immune cells are in cancer” she says, “and it means cancer treatment might be more effective if we neutralised immune cells at the same time as attacking the cancer”.  Dr Tournier has found the molecule ERK5 seems to be used by cancer cells to attract immune cells towards them.  “What’s exciting is that ERK5 is a type of molecule we can design a drug to block” Dr Tournier tells us “but before we do that, we need to prove ERK5 really is what cancer cells use to talk to immune cells”.  In this project Dr Tournier will study a mouse model of skin cancer, but if the project works she thinks the results will have much wider significance.  “We don’t think it is only skin cancer that uses this mechanism” she added “so by the end of this project we hope to have shown that blocking ERK5 is a way to interrupt the growth of many different types of tumour” .When telling her about the grant award she told us "This project is providing us with a wonderful opportunity to carry on our work on the role of ERK5 in cancer. My team is passionate about this fairly uncharacterised and unique signalling pathway. Our dream will come true if we succeed in using our new knowledge to improve cancer therapy. "
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