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The MYCN protein and its involvement in brain tumours

  • Researcher: Dr Fredrik Swartling
  • Institution: Uppsala University
  • Award Amount: £146,965 for 2 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: Brain Tumour
The MYCN protein and its involvement in brain tumours
Medulloblastoma is one of the most common malignant brain tumours in children. Malignant tumours are different from benign tumours as they will expand and spread to surrounding areas of the brain, causing damage. A protein called MYCN is needed for normal brain development, but in medulloblastoma too much MYCN can be present.

Dr Swartling and his team have created two different types of genetically modified mice, which allow them to study brain tumours caused by MYCN. They have discovered that one of the reasons that MYCN can accumulate in brain tumours is because it is not being broken down the way it should be. A system known as the ubiquitin system is responsible for breaking down MYCN in healthy brain cells, but in some medulloblastomas this system does not work properly. A molecule called FBW7 works on MYCN and is part of the ubiquitin system, but seems to be mutated in medulloblastoma, or there is much less of the molecule in cancer cells.

With their new grant, they want to study, in detail, the importance of FBW7 and MYCN in the development and growth of brain tumours. They hope to find what causes MYCN-driven brain cancer, and to find new ways to control stabilisation of this protein.
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