Archive of European Projects

ONCOWORM: Using functional genomics in highly regenerative flatworms to find novel cancer genes (Oncoworm)
Start date: 05 Apr 2016, End date: 04 Apr 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project will take direct action in exploiting the powerful planarian model system to achieve novel insights into the molecular processes underpinning oncogenesis and cancer. Based on the principle that biochemical and physiological functions of many genes are conserved across phyla we will identify planarian genes that control the migration, proliferation and differentiation of the highly proliferative pluripotent adult stem cells (pASCs). We will combine a bespoke specially designed partial irradiation assay, bioinformatic and expression based candidate gene identification and the capacity to perform RNAi based screens of gene function to identify novel genes controlling pASCs that are conserved in humans. Those novel genes of greatest promise will then be studied in mammalian cancer cell lines using the insight gleaned from planarians. This project brings together, for the first time, a world-class planarian laboratory with an eminent cancer cell biologist, Dr Kosaka, who will acquire all the expertise required to exploit the planarian system and at the same time transfer his extensive knowledge of cancer biology to the Aboobaker laboratory.
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