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Studying the roles of Fra proteins in lung cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Erwin Wagner
  • Institution: CNIO, Madrid, Spain
  • Award Amount: £151,364 for 3 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: Lung Cancer
Studying the roles of Fra proteins in lung cancer
Transcription is continually happening within our cells to extract information from our DNA to make sure that our cells work properly. This is controlled through proteins that are called transcription factors. Two very similar transcription factors, Fra-1 and Fra-2, can be found in a large number of cancers. When cancer cells are studied in the lab, Fra proteins can cause the cell to change into a different type of cell; this change is sometimes associated with cancer development.

When extra high levels of Fra proteins are found in lung cells grown in the lab, these cells grow and move in a way that is similar to cancer cells. However, the Fra proteins alone cannot cause lung tumours in mice, which suggests that there must be other factors involved as well. Dr Wagner's previous results have shown that 3 proteins, including Fra-2, were present at high levels in samples taken from lung cancer patients as well as mice that have the disease.

Dr Wagner and his team will be using their Worldwide Cancer Research grant to make genetically modified mice, in which they can eliminate or produce more of the Fra-2 protein at different times during lung tumour development. This will help them to understand the roles that the Fra-2 proteins play in lung cancer. They will also try to look at some of the molecules that are controlled by Fra-2 during tumour growth or when it spreads to other parts of the body, a process called metastasis. They expect that this study will give a better understanding of lung cancer development and may lead to new treatments that are specific for lung cancer and metastasis.
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