to speed gene cancer research
will be helping clinical scientists at St James's University
Hospital to understand the causes of diseases like leukaemia,
in the first facility of its kind in the UK.
medicine researchers, Constanze Bonifer, Peter Cockerill
and Louise Colletta (pictured left, l-r) are studying
how genes interact with proteins, and in particular how
DNA is 'packaged' into cells. The research has implications
for many types of diseases, but the researchers are focusing
on leukaemia and gastro-intestinal cancer.
is a very long molecule and has to be packed tightly to
fit into cells but if proteins can't access the
necessary genes within the DNA then the cells can’t
fulfil their function," said Dr Bonifer. "Cells
in different parts of the body pack their DNA in different
ways, to expose different genes relative to that part
of the body, be that the liver, the brain or the blood.
many cancers, a gene is mutated or active at the wrong
time, or too much, triggering a whole chain of events
and making other genes act incorrectly. In order to develop
effective gene therapies, we need to know what makes genes
behave as they do."
major part of the research looks at 'normal' cells to
see how their genes function, but other projects focus
on cell samples from patients with leukaemia, and using
the blood cell system and blood cell development as a
model for other parts of the body.
sophisticated technology allows the researchers to look
at genes directly, to identify which proteins are sitting
on which genes, how that affects the DNA structure and
correlates with the cell's activity.
out some of this work robotically will speed up the process
dramatically and make it more accurate. The new robotic
workstation is jointly funded by the medical research
council and the University.