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Flipping the switch on cancer cell death

  • Researcher: Professor Pascale Meier
  • Institution: The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, England
  • Award Amount: £220,746 for 3 years from June 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Flipping the switch on cancer cell death
Professor Pascale Meier and his team at the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK think they may have come up with a potential new way to fight cancer. They propose that small cellular molecules called cytokines, which are known to trigger cell inflammation and can drive tumour growth, might be exploited to kill cancer cells. But they need to find out much more, and this is where Worldwide Cancer Research funding comes in. The team’s studies are centred on one particular cytokine, called TNF. TNF is known to drive cancer-supporting inflammation. But paradoxically, it can also drive cell death. What is not yet known is how to flip TNF activity from being cell-saving and tumour promoting, to cell-killing and tumour suppressing. This is what Professor Meier is now working on- he wants to understand exactly how TNF signaling can be diverted to favour cancer cell death. He has a vast array of techniques at his disposal, from using single-molecule super high-resolution imaging, to studying in detail patient and mouse cancer cells. Professor Meier hopes that his work will provide important insights into TNF activity, opening up potential new therapeutic strategies.
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