Dr Chris Bakal
Cancer cells can spread around the body and develop into new tumours. This makes the disease tougher to treat. At The Institute of Cancer Research, London, Dr Chris Bakal is leading a research group that’s hoping to reveal the details of how cancer cells do this.
They are looking in particular at how cells squeeze through tissues and tiny blood vessels; a feat that requires cells to be flexible and able to switch up their shape. For their research, the scientists will focus on breast cancer and melanoma skin cancer cells in the lab. They will study the cells’ every move, using high-speed microscopes to track the cells in 3D. Their earlier work has suggested certain genes that might give cells this shape-shifting ability. So they’ll also look at the effects of taking out these genes and, using sophisticated computing and data analysis techniques, work out how certain genes control cell shape.
With a greater understanding of how cancer cells can spread, Dr Bakal’s work will hopefully find new ways to target this process in patients using drugs. This could help to treat the disease more effectively.