Dr Angus Cameron and his team aim to find out how normal cells in pancreatic tumours are recruited by cancer cells to support the growth and progression of the disease. Better understanding these processes might help to identify new drug targets in the future.
Angus Cameron is a senior lecturer in tumour biology at Barts Cancer Institute in London. His lab focuses on proteins called "kinases" and how they help cancer cells to grow and move about. Angus is a keen runner and plans to run the London Marathon in memory of his friend Nick who sadly passed away from cancer.
Tumours aren't just masses of cancer cells but also contain lots of normal cells that have been recruited by the tumour to help it grow. One of these cells is known as a cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) and evidence shows that they play a critical role in the progression of cancer. They have a strong presence in pancreatic cancer and Dr Cameron's team have recently identified a new protein, which is required for CAFs to assist the growth of a tumour. The team have developed a genetically engineered mouse which they now want to use to study exactly how this protein allows CAFs to communicate with tumour cells and whether there is an effective way to block this communication so that tumour growth can be prevented. This will not only give a better understanding of the biology of pancreatic cancer but could also identify a new drug target for treating one of the deadliest cancers.
This project was made possible thanks to a co-funding partnership with Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
The biology of pancreatic cancer is quite unusual because tumours are largely made up of fibrotic tissue, which is full of a normal cell type called fibroblasts. In fact, cancer cells often only make up 10-20% of the mass of a pancreatic tumour.Dr Angus Cameron