Structural Biology STP

Collaborating on translational projects

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We’re interested in collaborating to progress translational projects and research.

Collaborations with clinical scientists or multidisciplinary teams through our university partners and other institutions brings the possibility of patient-centred research and clinical studies.

This is critical for determining how new research understanding might work for patients.

examples

Counteracting Alzheimer’s

JP Vincent

Jean-Paul Vincent, a Crick group leader, and Yvonne Jones, of the University of Oxford, are collaborating with UCL scientists to explore if inhibition of a particular biological mechanism could help in Alzheimer’s disease.

In Alzheimer’s, clumps of misfolded proteins accumulate in the brain and are thought to contribute to the loss of nerve cells and memory loss. The early stages of the disease are characterised by the loss of synapses, specialised structures that allow nerve cells to communicate.

One class of signalling proteins called Wnts has been shown to stimulate synapse formation, which could help counteract the loss seen in Alzheimer’s. Jean-Paul and Yvonne Jones have shown that Wnt signalling can be boosted by inhibiting a protein called Notum.

They have teamed up with UCL scientists to develop inhibitors of Notum which could lead to a new therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s.

Stopping breast cancer spreading

Ilaria Malanchi

A partnership between Crick group leader Ilaria Malanchi and researchers at Imperial College London is investigating an approach to try and prevent breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the UK, largely due to cancer spreading to other organs (metastatic disease). Currently no therapies are available to prevent or stabilise cancer metastasis.

The Crick and Imperial team are investigating the observation that inhibiting the signalling molecule leukotriene prevents metastases. Under the leadership of principal investigator Charles Coombes at Imperial, the researchers are carrying out a clinical study to measure the effect of zileuton (which suppresses leukotriene formation) on the time to development of new metastases in patients with metastatic breast cancer. The aim is to improve the quality of life as well as the survival of patients with breast cancer.