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An inside view on cancer cells squeezing through tiny vessels

Postdoc Christine Schmidt from the Jackson group at the Gurdon Institute reveals a new study of how cancer cells divide and move through rolled-up transparent nanotubes, designed to mimic blood capillaries. The scientific team, including US and German colleagues, say this is a useful tool for studying metastatic cancer.

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Interdependence of BRD4 and DOT1L in MLL

Tony Kouzarides' lab, with lab alumnus Mark Dawson at the University of Melbourne, publish a study of two proteins that could be therapeutic targets in the aggressive disease Mixed-Lineage Leukaemia (MLL). The chromatin reader BRD4 and the histone methyltransferase DOT1L act together to regulate transcription in the pathway leading to molecular pathogenesis of MLL.

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Stem cells undergo ‘dynamic heterogeneity’

Ben Simons’ lab provides a model for stem cell self-renewal in which cells transfer reversibly between states primed for renewal or poised for differentiation. This is different from the previous emphasis on stem cells progressing along a one-way pathway to differentiation, and enables further understanding of tissue maintenance in health and disease.

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Pinning down details of proteins involved in spindle orientation

A new paper in the journal Development from Dan Bergstralh et al. in the St Johnston lab uses the power of live imaging combined with genetics. The work reveals fine details of dividing cells in the Drosophila imaginal wing disc to show that orientation of mitotic spindle does not require the protein Pins. This shows surprising diversity in epithelial tissue development.

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Kicking up a Storm with RNA epigenetics

Tony Kouzarides and Eric Miska at the Gurdon Institute have just sealed the deal on £12 M of venture capital investment for their new spinout company, Storm Therapeutics. The company was created to commercialise their findings on the role of RNA modifications in cancer, which present potential new therapeutic targets.

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VC’s Impact Award 2016 for Steve Jackson

The Gurdon Institute’s Steve Jackson has won the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellor’s inaugural Impact Award for the School of Biological Sciences. The award recognises the impact of his research on DNA damage repair pathways, leading to the identification of PARP inhibitors, a new class of anti-cancer drug. Marketed by Astra Zeneca, olaparib (Lynparza) is approved for use in the UK, Europe and the USA for certain types of ovarian cancer, and is showing promising trial results against prostate and other cancers.

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Milner Therapeutics Institute announces new partnership with Shionogi

Shionogi, a Japanese pharmaceutical company have joined the Milner Therapeutics Consortium alongside Astex, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, University of Cambridge, Babraham Institute and Sanger Institute. This represents Shionogi’s first involvement in a research consortium outside Japan and their first major research investment in the UK.

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Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.