We are studying the faulty signals inside cancer cells that make them grow out of control, so that we can find more effective treatments.
Every day we need to make billions of new cells in the body, replacing dead or worn-out cells and repairing any damage. New cells are also needed as a fetus grows in the womb and as a child grows into an adult.
Cell growth and replication is normally very tightly controlled - cells only multiply when they receive the right signals and they are told to die when they’re no longer needed. But sometimes these signals can become jammed ‘on’, constantly telling cells to divide out of control and eventually leading to cancer.
We are studying these cellular signals in great detail, focusing on molecules called kinases that relay messages within cells. There are more than 500 different kinases, each with a particular role, and many of them work together to form complex networks of signals that control growth, proliferation, death, movement and much more.
Our work concentrates on a group of kinases known as the protein kinase C (PKC) family, which have been implicated in many types of cancer. We have investigated how these kinases work in healthy cells, as well as how faults or aberrant activation of kinases from the PKC family drive cancer cells to grow and spread through the body. We are using our findings to help patients by developing drugs that target PKC family members and take them forward into clinical trials.