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Protein interactions in tumour development

  • Researcher: Dr Gary Parkinson
  • Institution: University College London, School of Pharmacy
  • Award Amount: £110,358 for 2 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Protein interactions in tumour development

Every cell in our body contains thousands of genes, which are made of DNA. The genes act as blueprints to produce proteins that carry out most of the processes occurring within cells. One of the processes involved in producing proteins, and which involves DNA, is called transcription. STAT3 proteins are a group of proteins that are involved in controlling transcription. When cells are under stress, STAT3 proteins can be activated very quickly, and when this happens more than normal, or at the wrong times, it can often lead to various diseases, including some cancers. Dr Parkinson and his team want to study small molecules that change important interactions that happen between proteins. They carried out a pilot study, which showed how small molecules that attack tumours were bound to STAT3, at the atomic level. They will design new variations of STAT3 proteins to understand key areas of interaction between proteins. They will study drug-like small molecules that have been shown to interfere with the proper functioning of STAT3, as well as studying how these proteins and DNA interact together, and study changes in STAT3 proteins that have been seen in conjunction with disease. They hope that this very different approach will give us a better understanding of new and known protein interactions to improve existing small molecule treatments, and find new molecules that could be tested for future cancer treatments.

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