Understanding mechanisms

Work package 3: Mechanisms

Leads Prof Julian Higgins, Prof Jeff Holly, Prof Nic Timpson

Understanding mechanisms which are potentially amenable to intervention is the core focus of Work package 3.  Two parallel and complimentary strands of research are used:  The first is systematic reviews of mechanistic studies, based on cancer-causing exposures which will be identified in Work package 1, and the second is using studies to recall population sub-groups, or their bio-samples, according to genotype for prediction of phenotype.

The Work package 3 team work with the IGFs and Metabolic Endocrinology Group (IMEG), who are focused on how nutrition and metabolism contribute to the development of cancer, with a specific interest in the role of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). Using cancer cells and tumour tissue from cancer patients, they identify mechanisms underlying how key exposures affect cancer risk and progression.  Within Work package 3, we have the capacity to further understand the importance of these molecules, their levels and associations with cancer risk and outcomes in population cohorts. Conversely, we can verify the biological plausibility of molecules identified from population studies that may be important in the disease process.

ICEP also works with other laboratory based research teams to complement and increase the scope of Work package 3. The ICEP team work with Professor Ann Williams’ research group to understand how aspirin might prevent colorectal cancer and slow its progression. They also work with Dr Emma Vincent’s group to understand how type 2 diabetes might increase the risk of certain cancers. These important links allow ICEP to investigate in depth how different cancers are caused, exacerbated and treated.

Future work will involve establishing and optimising laboratory assays for initial recall studies; the continuation of an investigation of the biological impact of vitamin D and glucose levels on intermediate endpoints.

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