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The role of the MYO5B protein in bowel cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Diego Arango
  • Institution: Vall d' Hebron Research Institute (VHIR)
  • Award Amount: £165,311 for 3 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: Bowel Cancer
The role of the MYO5B protein in bowel cancer
The cells that line our intestines have lots of finger-like extensions that help us absorb food, which make the cells look like a brush. This brush-like border disappears as tumours in the bowel grow, although scientists think that this is a result of the tumour rather than a cause. MYO5B is a protein that helps this brush border to take shape. Research has recently shown that, when this protein is no longer present in these cells, the brush border is damaged. The gene for the MYO5B protein is found in the area of a chromosome that is usually missing in bowel cancer. The MYO5B protein is also linked to tumour formation in stomach cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Dr Arango and his team have found that in cases of bowel cancer, a part of the MYO5B gene has an additional molecule attached to it, which affects how the gene works. They will use their Worldwide Cancer Research grant to study how MYO5B affects cancer progression, by studying the genetic changes that delete the protein from bowel cancer cells, and looking at how the presence of the protein might stop tumours from growing. They also plan to study the link between MYO5B and survival of patients at different stages of the disease. This work will hopefully teach us more about what happens within cancer cells at the early stage of development and to see whether the presence or absence of the MYO5B protein can be used as a way to test for bowel cancer.
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