Investigation into inhibitors that promote cancer cell death

From 2013 to 2017, Hope Against Cancer is funding a PhD studentship at the University of Leicester to investigate a new strategy aimed at killing rapidly dividing cancer cells that would be applicable both to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and potentially other cancer types. This research will exploit the fact that division of cancer cells is more stressful than division of normal cells. This is because cancer cells have increased copies of chromosomes and too many ‘centrosomes’ – structures that organize the cell division machinery. This stress makes cancer cells dependent on proteins that enable survival under stress. We have found that one group of proteins – HSP70 – plays a vital role in division of cancer cells, particularly in the presence of extra centrosomes.

Funding from Hope Against Cancer will allow the PhD student to make use of cutting-edge mass spectrometry technology to examine how HSP70 contributes to the division process as well as to test whether inhibiting HSP70 could lead to selective killing of ALL childhood cancer cells.

This award of £5,000 was awarded to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and is part of Hope’s  funding of priority research in the new Leicester Centre of Excellence.