Camera on Cancer Research: Using Receptor Biology to Understand the Complexities of Cancer

Uploaded by NCIresearchfunding on 13.07.2011

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HAGER: You know, there's good news and bad news.
The bad news, is cancer is a very complicated disease.
Hundreds and hundreds of different genes are involved
in these huge regulatory networks.
So to figure out how to defeat this problem will require a
relatively complete understanding
of how these genes work, particularly the networks,
how the networks work together.
So first of all, we do basic research.
We study what are called, Nuclear Hormone Receptors.
These are proteins that mediate the action
of hormones in the body.
So these are very important compounds in cancer biology.
We discovered later in the 90's, late '80's and '90's,
that these receptors are modulating the
chromatin structure.
So the modulation of the chromatin structure is, in fact,
a key element of regulating not only gene regulation
by receptors, but by all transcription factors.
>> We decided to start looking
at how these proteins actually move in living cells.
VOSS: So this is 384 wheel plate.
So you can have 384 different conditions here.
You can see we can grow cells on this plate, and it's cleared
on the bottom so that the microscope can see right
through the bottom.
And then this is the objective for the microscope.
It's a very high magnification objective.
And it simply goes back inside
and then it automatically focuses on that,
the bottom of that plate.
And then these are different molecules
that are regulating the DNA damage response.
So it's pretty amazing.
HAGER: The real way these proteins are working is by what we call,
a Hit-and-Run Mechanism.
As one protein binds, does something, causes a chromatin
to undergo one of these transitions,
and that transition itself is a necessary component
of the other protein binders.
So they're not there at the same time.
So what's happening in many
of these disease states including cancer is the
regulatory element for a particular gene
or gene network is being mis-regulated.
So the rationale for our research support,
for supporting the kind of work that's done in a laboratory
like this, is if we understand how our nuclear receptors work
or other transcription factor networks work,
we'll be much better position to try
and stop the adherent function
of these proteins in cancer diseases.
Again, bad news, is it's very complicated.
The good news is that we now -- with techniques like this,
we could never have dreamed of being able
to do this just a few years ago.
We're going to be able
to understand all the real molecular biology
of what causes cells to go bananas in cancer.
And we'll be able to develop, first of all,
much better diagnostic tools for picking
up cancer in very early states.
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