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Fellowship winners make cancer their focus
Date:2/25/2010

er cells.

"Many new cancer drugs designed to target the biology of the cancer in question cause cancer cells to stop growing but do not kill them well enough, allowing the tumours to recur," Dr Scott said. "I hope to harness the built-in killing machinery that exists within cells to improve outcomes for cancer patients."

Dr Scott has a particular interest in ovarian cancer and, through the fellowship, will design a program of epithelial ovarian cancer research that will be undertaken over the next five years.

Dyson Fellow Dr Blewitt, who also became a laboratory head at the institute on 1 January, studies epigenetics, a relatively new field of research that seeks to reveal how a cell knows which of its genes should be active at any given time.

Mr John Dyson, who co-manages the Dyson Bequest with Ms Rose Gilder, said the Dyson Fellowship was awarded to Dr Blewitt because of the enormous potential for her research to overhaul our understanding of the human genome.

"When we heard about the ideas Marnie was pursuing in epigenetics we were excited by their potential," Mr Dyson said. "This is research that could help explain how cancer develops in some people and could ultimately lead to the development of new treatments. If our support goes some way towards Marnie reaching that goal then it is money well spent."

Dr Blewitt said the Dyson Fellowship would allow her to finish establishing a viral shRNA (short hairpin RNA) library that she will use to identify new epigenetic modifiers in the mammalian genome.

"Epigenetics refers to the modifications or the 'tags' that are present on the DNA and which help to tell cells when to switch something on and use it, and when to turn something off," Dr Blewitt said.

"One thing that happens in cancer is genes that control cell growth are switched on such that too much of the protein that promotes cell growth is produced, and the cells keep multiplying and don't d
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Contact: Penny Fannin
fannin@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-345
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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