Cancer is thought to arise through a series of genetic mutations in the DNA sequence. Depending on the location of these errors and the genes that are affected, these mutations lead to the many different features that characterize cancer cells such as uncontrolled proliferation, escape from cell death and metastasis.
Dr. Mayr proposes the existence of a new type of anomaly that can lead to cancer: non-genetic aberrations induced by modifications of RNAs, which have so far been excluded from large-scale cancer genomics efforts. She has developed a new method to identify this type of aberration in different cancers and will investigate its frequency and functional consequences for tumor growth. Her studies will help to broaden the understanding of cancers and may also help in the design of new therapeutics.
Nicholas E. Navin, PhD [Nadia's Gift Foundation Innovator]
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas
Tumors evolve from single cells. As they expand to form the tumor mass, the cells diverge and form distinct subpopulations with different genetic mutations. This salient characteristic is called "intratumor heterogeneity" and confounds basic research and clinical diagnostics. The challenge is that standard genomic tools require a large amount of input material and thus are limited to measuring an average signal from a complex population of cells.
Dr. Navin proposes the development of an innovative single-cell sequencing tool that can detect genomic mutations in single cancer cells, allowing heterogeneity in tumors to be delineated. He will apply this technique to study how single breast cancer cells disseminate from the primary tumor into the circulatory system and seed metastatic tumors. In addition, this method will have a myriad of clinical applications, which have prognostic value in predicting invasion,
|Contact: Yung S. Lie, Ph.D.|
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation