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Dr Joanne Durgan

Dr Joanne Durgan

Cell Cannibalism in Cancer: exploring the control and impact of entosis in tumours

Dr Joanne Durgan's research“The objective of my research is to investigate the role of ‘cellular cannibalism’ in human cancer, a major cause of death and disease that claims millions of lives each year. Cellular cannibalism is a fascinating process through which one cell in the body is engulfed, killed and digested by another. Cannibalism occurs frequently in tumours, where it is termed ‘entosis’. Pathologists have observed this phenomenon for over a century, but its importance and potential therapeutic value have not been well studied. Emerging research now seeks to 1) unravel the mechanisms that drive entosis, 2) determine the effects of entosis on the tumour and 3) assess whether entosis can be harnessed as a novel means of controlling tumour growth. In this study, I propose to investigate the effects of cancer-linked genetic mutations on entosis, and to test if cancer cell cannibalism promotes or restricts tumour growth. Furthermore, I will investigate how frequently cannibalism occurs in tumours of different types, grades (severities) and genetic backgrounds, to gain new insight into how entosis relates to disease. Through this work, I aim to achieve a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between cell cannibalism and cancer, which may open new avenues for cancer research.”

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