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How can one cell coordinate the building of an entire tumour?

  • Researcher: Dr William Keyes
  • Institution: Centre Europeen de Recherche en Biologie et en Medecine - Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire (CERBM-IGBMC), Illkirch, France
  • Award Amount: £100,000 from 1st June 2015 for 3 years
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
How can one cell coordinate the building of an entire tumour?
Skin cancer can develop with different levels of aggressiveness, from slow growing tumors to highly metastatic (spreading) types. Dr Bill Keyes is investigating how changes in the way DNA is packaged in skin cancer cells might help them to grow and become more aggressive.Cancer causing genes usually regulate the expression of many other genes, causing abnormal, rapid cell growth and proliferation of the tumor. Genes are packaged tightly inside a cell in complexes called chromatin, and there are a set of proteins that work to make sure the chromatin packaging is properly made. It is now becoming clear that changes in the chromatin-making machinery can allow cancer-causing genes to work even better. Dr Keyes explained his new project "We have identified how one chromatin packaging protein, called Lsh, is required for the early stages of skin cancer development, and it seems that changes in expression of Lsh can change how tumors develop, possibly helping more aggressive types of skin cancer to grow.”He told us "We believe that by understanding how Lsh controls the packaging of DNA in cancer cells will help us learn more about how cancer-causing genes enable the tumor to become more complex and aggressive”. He added “I think this is a very promising area of cancer research, trying to understand the fundamental mechanisms regulating tumor cell proliferation. Of course we hope to find new ways to disrupt this complex process of gene regulation that allows the tumor cells to continue to grow in an uncontrolled way."
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