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How can we stop cancers from spreading?

  • Researcher: Professor Michael Olson
  • Institution: Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Award Amount: £190,547 for 3 years from January 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
How can we stop cancers from spreading?
One of the things that make tumours so dangerous is the ability of certain cancer cells to invade into surrounding tissues and organs, and then spread throughout the body. This process is known as metastasis and creates a more difficult, moving target for cancer treatments. The resulting secondary tumours, or metastases, can cause organs to fail and has been directly linked with 90% of cancer deaths. Therefore, treatments to stop the tumour cells from spreading could drastically improve outcomes for patients. Professor Michael Olson believes he has identified a molecule, called MRCK, that plays a major role in allowing certain cancer cells to spread. If MRCK can be turned off or blocked, this could potentially stop this process. Professor Olson is using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to better understand the role of MRCK in cancer spread and, as all cancers are different, which cancer types would be more susceptible to death when treated with drugs to turn off MRCK. In order to do this, he using over 1000 cancer cell types to identify which cancers and in what contexts these MRCK drugs would have the best chance to improve patient outcomes.
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