This section outlines recent highlights from LICR laboratory research. Descriptions of some of LICR’s major research successes can be found in the Success Stories section.
Understanding how individual genes, and the genome as a whole, affect and are affected by cancer can not only help us to understand how and why cancers occur, but might also lead us to better prognostic and diagnostic tests, therapy targets, and biomarkers that will predict a patient's response to certain therapies.
LICR cell biology research examines how the functions and organization of cells are corrupted by cancer. In particular, the research is focused on the cell structure and function, the loss of cell cycle control, the duplication and division of DNA during mitosis, and the ability of cancer cells to escape from their tissues of origin to populate other, unaffected tissues. It is hoped these investigations will reveal new ways to treat cancer, as well as improve the efficacy of existing chemotherapies.
Signal transduction is essentially a series of biochemical reactions that transmit signals within the cell or from outside the cell, to regulate and execute functions such as cell growth and proliferation. The disruption of normal cell signaling pathways, by mutations and alterations in the genome, allow cancer cells to grow uncontrollably and spread. LICR has focused particularly on signaling pathways that are initiated by the binding of a growth factor ligand to a growth factor receptor on the cell surface. These growth factor receptors are very frequently mutated or over-expressed in cancer and represent excellent targets for new cancer therapies.
The immune system is a complex and highly integrated network of specialized cells and proteins that protects the body from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. We now know that the immune system also plays a role in protecting against cancer. LICR—a world leader in this field of cancer immunology—is using results from laboratory research on cancer immunology to develop targeted therapies that harness the patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer.