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Human cancers occur when cells in the body undergo uncontrolled growth, and invade and destroy adjacent tissues (groups of normal cells). In addition, these cells can often spread to other parts of the body (this is called metastasis) where they continue uncontrollably growing and are more difficult to treat. In order for cells to invade and destroy adjacent tissues, some cells need to break away from the mass of uncontrollably growing cells (called a tumour) and crawl through the surrounding tissues. To do this, these cells must produce various molecules, called proteins, that breakdown the surrounding tissues and enhance cell movement. The research that I wish to perform aims to identify proteins that allow cancer cells to invade the surrounding tissues by promoting the ability of cells to move. Initially, this will involve identifying proteins that promote cell movement, and then blocking the functions of these proteins to determine if that prevents the ability of cancer cells to invade surrounding tissues. In the future, this information may be used to make drugs that disrupt the activity of these proteins in cancer cells and thus block cancers from invading surrounding tissues and ultimately spreading to other parts of the body.
Cancer cells are capable of spreading from the site of the primary tumour by invading adjacent tissues in the body. In order to spread from the primary tumour, the cancer cell must produce various molecules which breakdown the surrounding tissues and accommodate movement of the cancer cell. This project aims to identify the molecules which are expressed by ovarian cancer cells which enable it to spread and invade. If these molecules can be successfully identified, they may represent attractive drug-targets which may block the spread of cancers to other parts of the body.
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