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The Snail1 gene and EMT

  • Researcher: Dr Sandra Peiró
  • Institution: Fundacio institut Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM)
  • Award Amount: £167,495 for 3 years from January 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
The Snail1 gene and EMT
A phenomenon called EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition), is believed to help cancer cells spread throughout the body. Epithelial cells are immobile cells that cover the surfaces of organs and cavities within the body. Most types of cancer start from epithelial cells. EMT happens when genes get switched on inside epithelial tumour cells that reprogramme themselves so that their shape changes to become more like another type of cell, called mesenchymal cell. Mesenchymal cells can move around and invade other organs more freely. One of the genes involved in EMT is called Snail1. Snail1 is controlled by another gene, called LOXL2.

Dr Peiró and her group want to look at how EMT is controlled. They will use mice that have been genetically engineered so that they no longer have the Snail1 protein. They will study how EMT is controlled in these mice, and compare this to how EMT is controlled in normal mice. By understanding more about how tumour cells become mobile, we might be able to develop ways to block the spread of cancer.
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