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Connective Tissue Factors

Connective tissue factors in breast cancer

Despite improvements in the screening and treatment, for 30% of women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer these tumours will spread to other tissues. Tumour growth and spreading is caused by a series of growth factors. The activity of these factors is brought about by interactions with a series of heparin-like molecules termed glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), found in connective tissue. Some of these heparin-like molecules encourage growth factors, whereas others appear to block growth factor effects. Dr Hills and his team have identified the presence of several of these GAGs in breast cancer cells along with the expression of the growth factors to which they bind. In addition, they have identified mechanisms by which GAGs may control key features of tumour development. They are currently investigating how subtle changes in the structure of these molecules alter their effect on tumour progression.

Goals

    1) See whether detection of large quantities of certain GAGs detect early stage breast cancer.

    2) Identify structural differences to determine whether a heparin-like molecule promotes or inhibits  tumour growth.

Project team

Dr Frank Hills
Project leader 

Research Associate In vitro lab studies

Research Associate Molecular characterisation and nanoparticle conjugation

Histopathologist
Cancer tissues

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