Cancer is caused by faulty or damaged genes.
Damage to some types of genes, for example the Ras genes,
create "oncogenes" which encode proteins which lead to the
uncontrolled proliferation characteristic of cancer cells.
Other genes, for example the Rb gene, encode proteins which
act as the "brakes" on cell proliferation and are often
referred to as tumour supressor genes. When undamaged, such
genes may counteract the effects of oncogenes, but damaged
they can give oncogenes a free rein. A third class of cancer
genes is involved in the repair of DNA damaged by carcinogens.
Some of these genes encode components of the repair apparatus
while others, eg p53, regulate the "checkpoints" that ensure
cells do not divide when their DNA is damaged. Much of the
research in the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology
focuses on the molecular dissection of cancer genes. We
are studying Ras and other small GTPases, effectors of small
GTPase signalling such as the Raf family of protein kinases,
the tumour supressor genes Rb Tsc1 and Tsc2, and the c-Myb
family. Other interests include intracellular signalling
by the Wnt gene family, the biochemistry of the enzymes
involved in phospholipid signalling, and the way in which
cells fold proteins. As well as these studies in basic cancer
research, the Section has active programmes in the therapeutic
area of Gene Therapy for Cancer.
Cancer Research UK Centre
for Cell & Molecular Biology
Careers at the Centre
updated by Kathy