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Using worms to help us understand cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Alison Woollard
  • Institution: University of Oxford
  • Award Amount: £185,930 for 3 years from January 2012
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Using worms to help us understand cancer
Researchers often use tiny worms called C. elegans to understand how cells grow, divide and die. Many of the genes and proteins found in these worm cells are also present in human cells. Since worms are less complicated, grow faster and are easier to study than humans they enable scientists to see changes more quickly and do experiments that could not be done on humans. Dr Woollard has recently found two "anti-cancer" genes called unc-62 and ceh-20 that are present in the worm cells and are very similar to genes that are also found in human cells. She is now investigating how these two genes are turned on and how they control the way cells grow and divide, including their role in cancer.
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