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Research projects

Breaking point: causes and consequences of ‘centromere breakage’ in cancer development

Dr Daniele Fachinetti
Project period
Mar 2024 - Feb 2027
Research Institute
Institut Curie
Cancer types
General cancer research
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Fachinetti and his team want to understand the link between cancer development and  defects in 'centromeres'- the glue holding together sister chromosomes inside our cells that carry our genes. They hope they can reveal possible new drug targets for cancer therapy. 

Hope for the future

Your cells are constantly dividing as part of keeping your body healthy. When this happens, one cell is divided into two daughter cells with the same number of chromosomes carrying the same DNA information. However, sometimes things go wrong, causing incorrect number of chromosomes and mutations in DNA, which is known to increase the risk of many types of cancer developing.

Dr Fachinetti and his team believe that small structures in our cells called ‘centromeres’ are crucial for DNA instability. With your support, they will now find out more about the role of centromeres in cancer development and reveal new ways to target cancer with therapies.  

This project is co-funded with Fondation-ARC.


Headshot of Dr Daniele Fachinetti

Meet the scientist

Since he was a child, Daniele was passionate about science. He loves to explore nature and animals. He likes to take pictures of the beauty of nature: from a small polyp in a coral reef to the majestic forest in Amazonia or ice field in the Arctics.

The science

The DNA in your cells is found in small structures called chromosomes, which during cell division are made up of four arms glued together at the centre by ‘centromeres’. Defects in centromeres can cause the chromosome arms to break and reattach together in an abnormal way. This causes mutations to your genes and ‘genomic instability’, that can lead to the development of many cancer types.  

Dr Daniele Fachinetti and his team would like to understand why centromeres are hotspots for chromosome breakage and the role they play behind cancer development. The research team, alongside collaborators in France and the United States, will be using state-of-the-art technologies and techniques to reveal more than ever before about the role of centromeres in cell division.  

The team will be causing centromere breakage in human cells in the lab, so that they can better understand the conditions and mechanisms that lead to it.  They hope that by understanding these mechanisms, they will be able to identify new druggable targets with therapeutic potential for cancer treatment. 

Headshot of Dr Daniele Fachinetti Dr Daniele Fachinetti
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