Roles of Impaired Apoptosis and Differentiation in Tumourigenesis and Therapy [ 2007 - 2011 ]

Also known as: Cell Death and Stem Cells in Cancer and Its Therapy

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Jerry Adams (Principal investigator) ,  Dr Philippe Bouillet Prof David Huang Prof Andreas Strasser Prof David Vaux
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Brief description The ten scientific laboratories in this program have joined forces to investigate two ways in which tumours develop. Both are of particular interest, because they suggest new ways in which cancer might be overcome. Most of our tissues are continually renewed throughout life by production of new cells. Therefore many of the old cells in each tissue must die off to maintain the proper cell numbers. To eliminate cells that are no longer needed or have become damaged, the body has developed a remarkable cell suicide process termed apoptosis. Unfortunately, however, occasionally a random accident to the genes in one of our cells prevents the machinery for apoptosis from being turned on. In that case, the cell will not die when it should and, by continually dividing, it may eventually give rise to a cancer. Since most cancer cells still retain most of the machinery for apoptosis, however, a drug that could switch on this natural cell death machinery would provide a promising new approach to cancer therapy. Identifying and developing such drugs is one major long-term goal of this program. The other focus of our program concerns stem cells. These are rare cells with the remarkable ability to generate an entire tissue. For example, one of our laboratories has identified stem cells that can generate all the cells in the breast. The almost unlimited regenerative capacity of stem cells has a built-in danger. If a stem cell acquires the ability to proliferate excessively, it can go on to form a tumour. Indeed, many cancer researchers now suspect that rare stem cells within a tumour cause its inexorable growth. If tumour growth is maintained by stem cells, it will be essential to develop new forms of therapy that target these rare cancer stem cells rather than merely the bulk of the tumour cells. This is another key long-term goal of our program.

Funding Amount $AUD 21,656,910.70

Funding Scheme Programs

Notes Program Grant

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