Prof. Xin Lu
The main goal of our research is to identify molecular mechanisms that control cellular plasticity and suppress tumour growth.
Cells are able to change their characteristics and cell fate in response to external signals. This ability to change – cellular plasticity – underlies cancer initiation, metastasis and resistance to therapy. We are particularly interested in ‘guardians’ of plasticity in epithelial cells, from which over 80% of human tumours originate. We have a long-standing interest in the tumour suppressor p53 and the ASPP family of proteins (Apoptosis-Stimulating Protein of p53; Ankyrin repeats, SH3 domain and Proline rich sequence containing proteins), which have several roles including regulation of p53.
For example, we are applying our knowledge of the regulation of cell plasticity to upper gastrointestinal tract cancers to identify molecular mechanisms that are crucial in cancer initiation and metastasis, with an aim of developing approaches for early detection, prevention of cancer progression and selective cancer cell killing.