Skin tumourigenesis and tumour progression: A new function for 14-3-3zeta?
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another (metastasis) is responsible for the majority of cancer deaths. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of skin cancer in Australia and often arises as a result of sun damage. SCCs pose a significant risk of metastasis if left untreated. We have noticed that a protein called 14-3-3 which is switched on in normal skin, is turned off in SCCs. This project seeks to identify whether 14-3-3 is protective against SCC.
What we aim to achieve
If successful, our research may lead to the development of an additive to standard sun-cream that would prevent the formation of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). It could also lead to the production of a simple topical cream applied at sites of SCC following resection, which would prevent the development of further SCCs from cancer cells that are left behind.
Our next steps and milestones
Using the breakthroughs we have made in understanding how our protein of interest (14-3-3) regulates tumour progression, we will test a new approach to determine whether we can halt and reverse the progression of SCCs.
What motivates me
Cancer cells are extremely deft at evading the body's natural defence systems and indeed at hijacking normal processes to further their growth, spread and progression. I find this extremely fascinating. Harnessing this fascination to discover how cancer works helps me to contribute towards the development of new approaches to target it.
My message to supporters
Cancer is a challenging problem, and a solution is made more complicated by the fact that individual cancers can behave quite differently to each other. Finding out how cancer works and identifying the weak links that are common to cancer defence systems takes a lot of systematic and painstaking research. This needs to be consistently and continuously funded so that scientists can make the breakthroughs necessary. This is why we thank the generous donors who support Cancer Council SA and are privileged that they continue to support our work.