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Targeting molecular hooks to stop the spread of ovarian cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Patrick Caswell
  • Institution: The University of Manchester, England
  • Award Amount: £178,372 for 3 years from June 2014
  • Cancer Type: Ovarian Cancer
Targeting molecular hooks to stop the spread of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer (cancer of the ovaries) is the 7th most common cancer in women worldwide and the 5th most common cancer in women in the UK. Unfortunately, many women who develop ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the cancer has already spread. This means that the survival rates for patients with this type of cancer are low compared to other common cancers. Dr Caswell is interested in integrins, a family of molecules which act like tiny hooks. They stick out from the cell surface and anchor the cell to its physical surroundings (a bit like Velcro). Integrins are constantly being ‘recycled’; moved inside the cell and then back out to the surface again. This helps control the number of integrins at the cell surface, and the movement of the cell through its surroundings. The role of integrins in cancer is complex. With his grant from Worldwide Cancer Research, Dr Caswell is studying the recycling patterns of one particular integrin which has been linked to ovarian cancer. He wants to find out exactly how it affects the movement of cancer cells through a 3D environment in the lab, similar to how they might spread in the body. By doing so, he hopes to reveal new ways of targeting drugs to stop the spread of ovarian cancer.
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