Oesophageal cancer metastasis: investigation of the scaffolding protein RACK1 as a key player and therapeutic target

Key Information

Cancer type: 
Research Institution: 
Trinity College Dublin and St Jame's Hospital
Grant Amount: 
Start date: 
October 1, 2012
End date: 
September 30, 2016

Scientific Project Abstract

The oesophagus is a muscular tube that allows food move from the mouth to the stomach. Cancer of the oesophagus has become very common in Ireland and the western world and is associated with obesity. By the time a person with oesophageal cancer goes to the doctor, often the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). For example, cancer cells in the oesophagus can move to other places in the body like the liver or lungs. In this case it is very hard to treat the disease and the chances of survival are low. Therefore, it is very important that we find a treatment that prevents oesophageal cancer spread. By performing experiments in the laboratory, this project will study how oesophageal cells move. In particular it will focus on a protein in the cells called RACK1. RACK1 behaves like a scaffold because it can link together a number of important proteins that are involved in regulating cell movement. We want to find out exactly how these proteins bind one another to regulate movement. If we know this, we can design drugs that block the linkages and therefore can be used to treat oesophageal cancer.

For the non-scientist

One-line description: 
Understanding how oesophageal cancer spreads to other parts of the body
What this project involves: 
This project aims to understand ways in which oesophageal cancer cells are able to spread to other organs of the body, a process which makes this disease difficult to treat and result in a poor outcome for patients. Specifically, this project will focus on understanding how a number of connected proteins are involved in controlling cancer cell movement. If we can understand how these connected proteins are working, we may be able to develop drugs against them to treat oesophageal cancer patients.