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Understanding how people become resistant to chemotherapy

  • Researcher: Dr Richard Callaghan
  • Institution: Australian National University
  • Award Amount: £163,928 for 3 years from December 2012
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Understanding how people become resistant to chemotherapy
Despite the success of chemotherapy in treating cancer, a large number of patients become resistant to the drugs. This means that the cells stop dying and the cancer can continue growing or return. One way the cancer cells are able to adapt is by making "pumps" that sit in the membrane surrounding the cell and enable the chemotherapy drugs to pumped out, ensuring the cancer cell does not die. The production of lots of these pumps is associated with poor patient prognosis and lowered rates of the cancer entering remission. An obvious option is to find a way to "plug" these pumps but sadly this is not as easy as it sounds. One of these pumps is called P-gp and its exact shape has recently been determined. With this new knowledge Dr Callaghan has identified a specific site on the P-gp pump that could possibly be filled with a drug to stop it from working. He is now using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to investigate this site by carrying out an in depth analysis which could help provide information on the shape and type of drug which may stick to this specific site.
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