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EML, microtubules, and chemotherapy

  • Researcher: Professor Andrew Fry
  • Institution: University of Leicester
  • Award Amount: £226,358 for 3 years from April 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
EML, microtubules, and chemotherapy
Many chemotherapy drugs work by interfering with microtubules, which are one of the main components of a cell's internal structure. Microtubules play an important role in cell division, by helping the cell's genetic material to be split equally between the two daughter cells. In healthy cells, cell division is a highly organised and tightly controlled process. In cancer cells this control is lost, and the cells divide in uncontrolled manner, forming tumours. The drugs that work against microtubules stop cell division. Although chemotherapy drugs that affect microtubules are an effective treatment against certain cancer types, resistance to the drugs develop quickly.

Researchers are looking for different ways to target microtubules and thereby prevent cell division. The EMLs are a group of proteins that until now have been poorly studied. They attach to microtubules when cells divide, and Professor Fry and his team are doing research to see how these proteins might influence the ability of cancer cells to divide. They will be using their Worldwide Cancer Research grant to find out whether the EML proteins play a role in how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy drugs that affect microtubules. Finally, they will study the biological properties of specific EML proteins that are found in a significant proportion of lung cancer patients.
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