Pinpointing how cancer cells cope with chemotherapy
9 March 2010
BBSRC-funded scientists have pinpointed one of the mechanisms which cancer cells use to survive chemotherapy.
Dr Ian Cannell, under the supervision of Dr Martin Bushell, from the University of Nottingham's School of Pharmacy's RNA Biology Group, has discovered that miR-34c - one of the hundreds of microRNAs used by our bodies to regulate genes - is critical in the control of Myc - one of the commonest cancer genes.
The research, published today, 8 March 2010, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is another step forward in the search for more effective chemotherapy treatments.
Everyday we are exposed to things that damage our DNA - such as lifestyle factors and environmental poisons. Our bodies use a number of checkpoints to detect damaged DNA and allow it to be repaired. Mutations that prevent these checkpoints from functioning can lead to cancer.
This research, funded by the BBSRC, has delved beyond what is known about one of the remaining checkpoints in cancer cells - giving deep molecular insight into how these cells respond to chemotherapy.
Dr Cannell and Dr Bushell have discovered that cancer cells use miR-34c to repress the control function of Myc. Malfunction in this regulatory network prevents the normal control of Myc, allowing cancer cells to survive and keep on reproducing.
Dr Bushell said: "This is a very exciting time for us. This new research has uncovered a central hub of biological control which ties together major components of the cancer pathways. The search for cancer therapies is hugely complex. So scientists are now trying to find ways to interfere with cancer related genes without affecting normal biological functions elsewhere in the body. The Myc gene is a hugely influential regulator of cell growth. Fine-tuning of its function by miR-34c has the potential to be exploited therapeutically in the future which we are currently investigating"
About The University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation - School of Pharmacy), and was named 'Entrepreneurial University of the Year' at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
More University of Nottingham news: http://communications.nottingham.ac.uk/
BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.
BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:
- The Babraham Institute
- Institute for Animal Health
- Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Studies (Aberystwyth University)
- Institute of Food Research
- John Innes Centre
- The Genome Analysis Centre
- The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
- Rothamsted Research
The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.
Dr Martin Bushell, The University of Nottingham
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