Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Signaling
Tier 2 - 2007-04-01
RESEARCH INVOLVESIdentifying different outcomes and early steps of embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation (or how these cells turn into different types) in human ESCs and prototype mouse ESC model systems.
RESEARCH RELEVANCEDeveloping a fundamental understanding of human embryonic stem cells to create effective differentiation methods for cell-replacement therapies, and develop new models to understand how cancers start in humans.
FIGHTING CANCER IN A SMARTER WAYAn estimated 159,900 new cases of cancer and 72,700 cancer deaths were projected in Canada for 2007 alone, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Even though cancer is this widespread, however, the details of what actually leads to many types of cancer are still not well understood.
Dr. Bradley Doble, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Signaling, is taking a closer look at both stem cells and cancer cells to find out how cancer develops.
Doble is leading research at McMaster University’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute to refine what researchers know about the signalling, or communication, pathways in cells involved in the development of cancer.
“Understanding the details will allow us to target the specific problems that are causing cancer,” says Doble, an expert in cell signalling (the communication system between cells that governs what they do and how they work together) and embryonic stem cell biology.
Stem cell research has become particularly important in studying cancer, since it turns out the same signalling pathways linked to cancer are also involved in regulating normal stem cell properties.
Doble’s research looks, specifically, at GSK-3 (glycogen synthase kinase), a regulatory protein particularly important for the basic functioning of cells. He is using genetically engineered mouse stem cells to study GSK-3’s role in these pathways in normal stem cell biology and in cancer.
“The long-term goal is to understand the core pathways involved in certain types of cancer,” says Doble. “GSK-3 plays a very prominent role in regulating several signalling pathways that are implicated in cancer. By understanding the details of these pathways, the long-term goal is to develop rational strategies to combat cancer in a smarter way than we do now.”