Dr Paul Huang
Many different mutations can occur in DNA which can lead to breast cancer. However, it is difficult to design drugs which counteract every single mutation that can occur. If we can find ways to target many mutations, with one weak spot in cell growth caused by these mutations, this could provide targets for new treatment options for patients.
Cells receive signals from the surrounding environment which tell them to survive and multiply. These signals are passed inside the cell along a chain of proteins, which are referred to as ‘signalling pathways’. In breast cancer, mutations that occur in DNA can over-activate these signalling pathways, causing cells to multiply out of control.
There are many different mutations affecting a range of signalling proteins, so it would be too difficult to design drugs to counteract every single mutation. However, some of these signalling pathways converge, meaning signals from different pathways can sometimes go through the same proteins. These proteins could be weak spots that can be targeted with drugs.
In this project, Dr Huang aims to identify these weak spots – proteins where signalling pathways link together – using normal breast cells grown in the lab which carry mutations in signalling proteins. He will then test whether changing the amount of these proteins could kill cells or prevent cells from multiplying.
What difference will this project make?
Dr Huang hopes to identify the weak spots in signalling pathways that breast tumours depend on to grow. This could lead to new drugs for people with breast cancer and, ultimately, improve their chances of survival.
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