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On the road to new anticancer treatments

  • Researcher: Dr Vassiliki Kostourou
  • Institution: Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Centre, Vari, Greece
  • Award Amount: £224,000 for 3 years from October 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
On the road to new anticancer treatments
If a tumour’s blood supply can be stopped then the tumour cells will starve and die. Dr Kostourou in Greece is investigating if a cell molecule called Talin might be the key to making this happen. Tumours are like little cities of cells all by themselves. As they grow they develop their own blood vessels which act much like roads, bringing in nutrients, oxygen and growth signals and taking out waste. The blood vessels also form escape routes, allowing tumour cells to reach other parts of the body. The process of growing new blood vessels is called angiogenesis, and once this starts the tumours can rapidly grow and spread. Antiangiogenic treatments try to block blood vessel growth, but current treatments have limited effectiveness. New antiangiogenic therapies are desperately needed. Dr Kostourou’s work is focusing on Talin, a molecule which helps ensure that the cells of newly growing blood vessels are attached properly to their surroundings. She is examining how these blood vessels develop when Talin is missing, and if this affects tumour development and spreading. To do this, Dr Kostourou is studying human biopsies of cancer and mice which lack Talin in their blood vessel cells. By using this combination of methods, Dr Kostourou will be able to maximise our understanding both of the molecule itself, and also whether it could make a good antiangiogenic therapeutic target.
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