Cambridge: understanding the nuts and bolts of cancer
Last updated: 25/07/2011
What's this project about?
New life-saving cancer treatments don't just appear out of nowhere. They begin life as groundbreaking lab discoveries made by some of the brightest scientific minds in the world.
Professor Steve Jackson - award-winning scientist and head of Cancer Research UK labs at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge - is making incredible progress in understanding the process of DNA repair and its link with cancer. Some of his discoveries have already been developed into new treatments for cancer that are being tested in clinical trials.
Read the video transcript here.
Supporting this project
Justin donatedGood Luck Paul, its gonna b... Good Luck Paul, its gonna be a toughie! Justin - Barton Jones Packaging more
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Project update - July 2011
Professor Steve Jackson has been awarded the 2011 Buchanan Medal by the Council of Royal Society. This award recognises his outstanding contributions to understanding DNA repair. This is a fantastic achievement and testimonial to Professor Jackson’s hard work and commitment to understanding the nuts and bolts of cancer. So thank you to everyone who has donated so far and supported his research.
He also got in touch to tell us a bit more about the people in his lab:
I’m lucky to have a lab full of extremely hard-working dedicated scientists from all over the world including Japan, India, the USA and Algeria, as well as from all over Europe. In fact, between us we can speak 12 different languages! I anticipate that many of them will go on to set up their own labs in the future.
We have also recently welcomed a new researcher to the lab, Christine Schmidt. She has just been awarded a FEBS Return-to-Europe Fellowship, which will support her work for two years. Christine will be looking at some of the molecules that are important in DNA repair.
While the funding that Christine has received is highly prestigious, like many personal fellowships, it only provides Christine with a salary and does not cover her lab research costs. Consequently, the support my lab receives from Cancer Research UK is invaluable in providing funds for Christine and other researchers in the lab to carry out their research. Without the money the lab receives from Cancer Research UK, I would not be able to offer places in my lab to talented scientists such as Christine, so a big thank you to everyone who has helped support our research.
What is the science behind this project?
The DNA in our cells is under constant attack, causing damage that can lead to cancer. It's true that chemicals found in cigarette smoke and ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage DNA. But it can also be damaged by the chemical reactions that occur naturally within our cells. Most of this damage gets repaired and no further harm will come of it. But some can lead to cancer.
Professor Jackson and his team are investigating the molecular 'toolbox' that cells use to detect and repair DNA damage.
For example, they are studying the signalling proteins that alert the cell to the presence of DNA damage, and how their signals attract other proteins to repair it.
Findings from Professor Jackson's research are already being translated into new treatments for cancer patients. His work led to the development of a drug called a PARP inhibitor, which is now being used in clinical trials to treat women with some types of breast and ovarian cancer that are caused by certain gene faults.
By understanding how our cells detect and repair DNA damage, we will shed light on the causes of cancer, and find new ways to treat the disease in the future.
The difference you can make
Professor Jackson is an award-winning scientist who has been funded by Cancer Research UK for almost 20 years. His work is at the very forefront of research into the basic biology of cancer, and he has a proven track record of translating his lab discoveries into new life-saving treatments with the potential to benefit thousands of cancer patients.
Please help us raise £340,000 to support a year of Professor Jackson's world-class research.
Beating cancer with basic research
Around 40% of Cancer Research UK's research spend (the cost of research work done) goes towards basic research like this to understand how and why cancer develops.
This vital research is relevant to all types of cancer and lays the foundations for new ways to detect and treat the disease.
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute
The Institute is a unique partnership between the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK. It is dedicated to state-of-the-art research into the causes of cancer, and developing new treatments and bringing them to the clinic to benefit cancer patients.
Visit the site to find out more about the Centre's groundbreaking work.
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