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Taking on the cells which help breast cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Fernando Calvo
  • Institution: Institute of Cancer Research, London, England
  • Award Amount: £223,737 for 3 years from January 2015
  • Cancer Type: Breast Cancer
Taking on the cells which help breast cancer
Dr Calvo wants to target cells in the body that are 'friendly' to cancer- that help the cancer grow and survive. For a tumour to stay alive it needs a supportive army of non-cancerous cells. From the immune cells which don't attack, to the blood vessel cells that feed the tumour, all of these otherwise healthy cells are somehow 'persuaded' to help cancer progress and spread. Dr Calvo and his team are focusing on a type of cell, called cancer-associated fibroblasts. These cells are well known to support tumour growth and spread, and contribute to treatment resistance. During this project he will study in detail how these cancer friendly cells help tumours grow, and if a special protein he has identified might help drive these cells to support cancer. Ultimately, Dr Calvo's work will help define whether targeting cancer-associated fibroblasts might be another- rather more sneaky- way of hitting cancer where it hurts. "This project will allow us to determine how stromal fibroblasts within tumours are ‘corrupted’ and participate in malignant progression and cancer spread. I find this project particularly exciting because it may identify strategies to revert this process and deter tumour progression,” says Dr Calvo.
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