Current Research Projects
Molecular genetics of cell division
The use of chemotherapy to effectively treat cancer is often constrained by the side effects that occur because the drugs kill all dividing cells in the body, not just the cancer. Still worse, many advanced tumours and relapses show drug resistance, even to combined drug therapies. These multi-drug resistant cancers usually exhibit chromosomal instability, gaining and losing chromosomes as they grow. This has led to the theory that Chromosomal INstability (CIN) is responsible for generating massive genetic diversity out of which drug resistant cells can emerge. Although CIN and drug resistance creates problems for traditional therapies, it also presents a potential therapeutic target: if we can develop drugs to specifically kill cells with CIN, the cancer could be effectively treated without damaging normal cells.
We have established a straightforward screening approach using Drosophila to identify genes that can be depleted to kill cells with chromosomal instability. In our first round of screening we tested 485 kinases and phosphatases, and identified 16 that specifically enhanced cell death only in CIN cells. Much of our current work is to characterize how these genes affect cell division and to determine which pathways and mechanisms can best be targeted to specifically kill CIN cells.
If you would like further information on any of our work, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or drop in to have a chat (1st floor, room 1.30 MLS building).
Please note that I will not be taking any further overseas PhD students in 2013.