Understanding the role of ISG15 in how breast cancer cell start to migrate

Project details

Researcher: Dr Alex von Kriegsheim

Location: University of Edinburgh

Project title: Understanding the role of ISG15 in how breast cancer cell start to migrate

Key area: Secondary breast cancer

The challenge

When cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body it can be treated but not cured. However, we still don’t know enough about how breast cancer cells start to spread to be able to prevent it.

Project description

In some patients, breast cancer cells undergo a transition enabling them to become more mobile and spread throughout the body. Dr von Kriegsheim has found that forcing normal cells from the breast to overproduce a protein called ISG15 can cause them to undergo this transition and behave more like cancer cells.

In this project, Dr von Kriegsheim will study how ISG15 affects the way breast cancer cells interpret messages from their surroundings that tell them to multiply and migrate. ISG15 is a small protein which can be bolted on to other proteins, changing how they behave, and so he aims to identify which proteins are affected by ISG15. He will study in more depth how ISG15 causes cells to undergo the transition to become more mobile, using breast cancer and non-cancerous cells grown in the lab, and developing computer simulations. Finally, he will study whether ISG15 is necessary for breast cancer to be able to spread throughout the body.

What difference will this project make?

Dr von Kreigsheim’s research into ISG15 will reveal how it is involved in the early stages of breast cancer spread. This could lead to drugs that block the activity of ISG15 and the proteins it works with, leading to treatments that prevent breast cancer spreading and improve the chances of survival for people living with the disease.

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