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Liver cancer and the role of the URI protein

  • Researcher: Dr Nabil Djouder
  • Institution: CNIO
  • Award Amount: £189,374 for 3 years from January 2011
  • Cancer Type: Liver Cancer
Liver cancer and the role of the URI protein
Cells have a complex internal system of proteins controlling everything they do. These proteins are organized into pathways in which the first activates the second and that activates the third, and so on, passing the activation signal down the pathway. These pathways are often very complex, with many crosstalks and branches. Several of these signalling circuits are involved in controlling how cells grow and divide and can become significantly altered in cancer cells. One such pathway is the mTOR pathway which has been linked to low survival rates for patients with liver cancer. However the final 'targets' of this pathway are not yet fully understood. Dr Djouder has recently identified one of these "targets" called URI which allows cells to survive when turned on and promotes cell death when turned off. In several human cancer cells however, including liver cancer, URI is present at high levels. This prevents the cells from dying, resulting in aggressive cancer and is therefore associated with lower patient's survival rates. This indicates that URI may help cancer cells avoid being killed and it may also have cancer-causing abilities. With a grant from Worldwide Cancer Research Dr Djouder is examining exactly how URI is involved in liver cancer.
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