New advances in cancer research to be highlighted at University of Leicester

A scientist whose work is key to understanding how cancer cells divide and spread in the body is to present advances in his latest research at a public forum to be held at the University of Leicester.

Professor Andrew Fry, of the Department of Biochemistry, leads a renowned research group at the University of Leicester that is internationally consulted as a leading laboratory in the field of Molecular Cell Biology.

Many current cancer treatments act by killing all dividing cells and are not necessarily specific for the cancer cells, hence the severe side effects. One of Professor Fry’s aims is to understand the molecular control of cell division and as a result identify proteins which can be targeted in specific tumours, leaving other cells unharmed.

On Tuesday April 28, Professor Fry will discuss his research and its future direction. The lecture, How Cells Control the Great Divide, in the Ken Edwards Building Lecture Theatre 1, starts at 5.30pm. It is open to the public and free.

Professor Fry said: “In my presentation, I will highlight how our research has contributed to the understanding of a key aspect of human cell biology that is cell division. This research has provided important new insights on the causes of many human diseases, including cancer, and led to the identification of a number of new targets for cancer treatment.

“An adult human being contains millions of cells that all arise following the fertilization of an egg cell by a sperm cell. Human development therefore requires cells to divide again and again to create the tissues and organs of our body. Cell division is a complex mechanical process that not only leads to the production of new cells but ensures that each one maintains the right genetic content required to sustain life. Loss of control over cell proliferation and the development of genetic and chromosomal abnormalities are classic hallmarks of cancer.”

Professor Fry added that the group’s research falls into three broad areas:

  • Study of a family of proteins that play a role in cell division and cilia organization which makes them attractive targets for the development of new anti-cancer drugs
  • Research on a particular structure that lies at the heart of each and every cell, called the centrosome (standing for “central body”), and how centrosome defects contribute to cancer progression
  • Examination of the cell biological basis of ciliopathy disorders, a diverse set of devastating human diseases with symptoms ranging from polycystic kidney disease to mental retardation, obesity and progressive blindness.

“Something that has helped us to establish a world-class reputation is a state-of-the-art Microscopy facility at the University of Leicester. The ability to use high resolution microscopy, to see what is actually going on in cells, is critical to research. So having this facility at Leicester allows us to compete at world level.”

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