Close up of researcher working with samples in a lab

Research projects

Powering down: Targeting the cancer cell batteries to stop cancer

Dr Barak Rotblat
Project period
Jan 2024 - Dec 2026
Research Institute
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Cancer types
General cancer research
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Rotblat and his team are investigating whether a special type of molecular protein that cancer cells use when they generate energy could be an important new target for cancer treatments.

Hope for the future

Cancer cells need huge amounts of energy to survive and grow. Understanding how they generate that energy is vital for figuring out new ways to stop cancer.

Dr Rotblat is investigating an important set of molecules, called ‘chaperone proteins’, that are involved in this process. His findings should help us find out more about exactly how cancer works, and how cancer cells make the energy they need. This information could provide those vital first steps towards developing a new treatment for cancer.     


lab experiment

Meet the scientist

Barak is the father of a boy and a girl, and he lives with his wife and kids in a small kibbutz in the south of Israel. Before we lived in Leicester, UK, for two years while in my postdoc, and learned to love British culture. His hobbies are rock climbing, listening to music and reading. He loves sci-fi such as Dune.

The science

Chaperone proteins work as the ‘maintenance crew’ inside the ‘batteries’ of the cell, called the mitochondria. They help to guide other important proteins around the mitochondria, and make sure these proteins are working properly. This helps the mitochondria to quickly ‘power up’ and produce more energy as soon as the cancer cell needs it.

Dr Roblat and his team in Israel think that blocking chaperone proteins might make it harder for cancer cells to produce energy in a flexible way. But they need more evidence to know for sure.  Thanks to your support, the team can now gather that evidence, and study in detail exactly how cancer cells use chaperone proteins. As part of this work they will use a special molecular technique to remove these proteins from cancer cells, and then study in the lab how this affects cancer growth and survival.

Building up a detailed picture of exactly how chaperone proteins work in cancer will help to reveal whether they could be a new target for cancer treatments. These findings will also be immensely valuable to other researchers searching for new ways to treat cancer.

Headshot of Dr Barak Rotblat with his lab in the background Dr Barak Rotblat
What I think is special about Worldwide Cancer Research is that it gives out-of-the-box research ideas a fair chance. I have great hopes for this project. Our findings will lay the scientific infrastructure for developing new therapeutic strategies in the future.

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