Identifying the switches that turn cell growth off and on would have profound implications for cancer medicine. If the right mechanisms can be found, cancer cells could be targeted specifically, resulting in more efficient treatments. Nuclear reprogramming could also enable cells to be utilized more safely and effectively in regenerative medicine.
Melanoma or skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancer types. When identified early, melanoma is relatively easy to cure, but once it starts to metastasise, it becomes very difficult to treat. Treatments rapidely induce drug resistance. However, recent research has shown that within a tumour, it is possible to change drug resistant cells to drug sensitive cells, opening possibilities for new therapies.
Although all cells in our body have the same genome, they look different and perform different functions. Epigenetic modifications such as methylations ensure which sets of genes are expressed in specific cells and how this specificity is inherited. Cancer cells show particular epigenetic abnormalities which can be targeted for cancer therapies.
There is great heterogeneity between individuals in their risk of developing cancer, disease progression and responses to therapy. Specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with human cancers. They have the potential to help us identify individuals more at risk of developing cancer, and better target preventative or therapeutic strategies.
In the context of cancer, genetic diversity means that we respond differently to various treatments. Pharmacogenomics sits at the intersection between genetics and drugs. Better understanding of the genetic landscape of cancer and the recent increase of targeted drugs allow us to better match patients with the best treatments, improving care.
Ubiquitin signalling is an important part of the inflammtory response. However when inappropriately regulated e.g. as a result of hereditary or somatic gene mutations or infection by pathogens, this may result in serious pathologies, including immunodeficiency, chronic inflammation and cancer.
Cancer research now generates huge amounts of data, and sophisticated computational tools are needed to answer biological questions. Making sense of this variability at the molecular level will help us better tailor treatments to individual cancer patients.
Video microscopy aims to improve target discovery and drug development and to do so generates large volumes of data. Fluorescence labelling helps make intrinsic cellular functions visible and computational tools then enable analysis of these data sets to improve our understanding of cellular functions.