The role of E-cadherin and HGF in bowel cancer
- Researcher: Dr Johan De Rooij
- Institution: Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research
- Award Amount: £200,822 for 3 years from April 2013
- Cancer Type: Bowel Cancer
Cells respond not only to chemical signals but also to mechanical ones. Cells are pushed and pulled about by the cells and tissue around them, and this can have a wide range of effects on how a cell behaves and the genes it expresses. It is thought that mechanical forces play a role when cancers spread, when the stiffer environment of the tumour tissue around them puts them under stress, so that they activate a stress response programme that enables them to move more freely. A hormone called HGF is known to increase the likelihood of tumours spreading, and Dr De Rooij and his team think this may happen, at least in part, because it increases mechanical force on tumour cells. They have developed a 3D cell model from bowel cancer samples, which react to HGF by changing shape. They will use this model to investigate how bowel cancer responds to HGF, by changing shape. They will use this model to investigate how bowel cancer responds to HGF, and to look in detail at a molecule called E-cadherin, which they think may be involved in sending the mechanical signals. The effect of mechanical forces on the behaviour of tumour cells has not been well studied so far; this line of research could reveal entirely new information about how we might prevent cancer spreading.
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