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Understanding the control systems inside our cells

  • Researcher: Dr Pei-Yun Wu
  • Institution: CNRS
  • Award Amount: £180,573 for 3 years from November 2011
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Understanding the control systems inside our cells

Cancers can result from accumulation of damaging changes to our DNA. These alterations may be caused by many things, including damage from the environment such as UV from sunlight and mistakes that are made when the DNA is copied before a cell divides. Although cells have mechanisms to prevent or repair such damage, these safeguards can sometimes become faulty. In this case, changes to the DNA can accumulate and be passed on from one cell generation to the next. This may then cause cells to become cancerous, forming a tumour by growing and dividing in an uncontrolled manner. Dr Wu is investigating how cells acquire the multiple alterations to the DNA that can contribute to the development of cancer and how they are able to limit the copying of their DNA when it is at high risk of being damaged. This work is being conducted in yeast, which is an excellent system for studying such questions as yeast cells are fundamentally similar to human cells but much easier to manipulate. In addition, since yeast are less complicated than human cells and they provide an opportunity to understand difficult biological problems that can then be directly tested in humans.

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