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Monday, 18 September 2017

Dundee University awarded £2m grant for 'innovative' cancer research

Written by The Press Association

A university has been awarded a £2 million grant to pursue an "innovative" strand of research into cancer.

Professor Karim Labib and his team at the University of Dundee will explore the role one of the most fundamental processes in cell biology plays in the disease with the help of the funding from Cancer Research UK.

Experts hope the work will aid the discovery of new and better ways to treat cancer.

The research will centre around the vital process by which cells copy their own chromosomes and then make new cells, the university said.

Chromosomes contain the genetic blueprint that makes us who we are and this information must be copied perfectly for new cells to survive and carry out their function.

When the copying process goes wrong, it can lead to cancer as abnormal cells are created.

Proteins in the cell combine to build a molecular "machine" called the replisome, which plays a key role in copying the double helix of DNA at the heart of each chromosome.

The replisome is only built once during the life of each cell, and is then "disassembled" to ensure that cells make just one copy of each chromosome.

Previous research by the team has suggested inhibiting this replisome disassembly could kill certain kinds of cancer cells, the university said.

The new study by Professor Labib and his colleagues in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (PPU) at Dundee will build on this work, which looks at the cell processes in a small worm called Caenorhabditis elegans.

Professor Labib said: "I am very grateful to Cancer Research UK for their support, which will enable us to expand our work with animal cells and hopefully gain insight into an important process that is defective in particular human cancers, suggesting future approaches to new therapies."

Dr Catherine Pickworth, of Cancer Research UK, added: "It is exciting to see Professor Labib taking his work on the nuts and bolts of cell replication and progressing it from yeast to animal cells.

"Hopefully his research will help to understand if targeting these processes could suggest new approaches to targeting cancer cells in humans.

"Cancer Research UK funds innovative research like this because it is a vital part of finding new and better ways to treat cancer and we're looking forward to following his work as it progresses."

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