Making cancer kill itself

This week on the show, Beth spoke to another of Australia’s Fresh Scientists. Lisa Happo, a PhD student from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is working on identifying “suicide genes” to kill cancer cells.

Cell death, or apoptosis, normally prevents cancer and autoimmune diseases from spreading. But if the genes that control apoptosis are damaged, the cells won’t die like they’re supposed to and anti-cancer treatments aren’t as effective.

Lina Happo, PhD student at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, who has identified three genes essential for killing cancer cells
Lina Happo, PhD student at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, has identified three genes essential for killing cancer cells

Lisa and her colleagues discovered three genes that are meant to make the cancer cells kill themselves in chemotherapy. By identifying these genes, and the abnormalities that stop them working, it should be possible to develop more efficient, targeted therapies for blood, breast and ovarian cancers that reduce collateral damage to other, healthy cells.

Read more about Lisa’s research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

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