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Identifying mechanisms that drive the migration of early lung cancers

Research aim

To identify why and how precancerous cells move throughout the lungs.

Research aim

Background

Lung cancers are the most lethal type of cancer in the UK. This is because most patients are diagnosed only once curative treatments are no longer possible. In order to save lives we need to understand how and why early lung cancer develops.

We recently found that precancerous lung cells move throughout the lungs before forming tumours. If we can learn how this occurs we can identify new ways to treat lung cancers at their earliest stage.

This project will answer whether early lung cancer movement is due to changes in the cells themselves or the lung as a whole.

The results from our research will give us a new understanding of the earliest changes that happen in lung cancer development. This project will help us to develop and test new therapies that could prevent or reduce a person’s risk of developing invasive lung cancer.

Dr. Giangraco, University College London

What is the problem to be addressed?

We recently discovered that mutated, precancerous lung cells move throughout the lungs before becoming a true lung cancer and invading other organs including the brain, liver, and bones.

We believe that this movement of pre-cancerous cells around the lung increases a person’s chances of developing an invasive lung cancer.

If we can discover the cause of this movement this will help us understand the earliest causes of lung cancer and additionally help us to develop new therapies that prevent this precancerous cell movement from occurring.

Expected findings and potential impact

Learning how and why precancerous cells move throughout lungs is an important step in understanding and developing treatments for the earliest stages of this disease.

By the end of this project we will know whether changes in lung cells themselves or changes in the lung surface cause precancerous cells to move throughout the lung.

These results will give us a new understanding of the earliest changes that happen in lung cancer development.

This project will help us to develop and test new therapies that could prevent or reduce a person’s risk of developing invasive lung cancer.

Lead researcher: Dr Adam Giangraco | Location: University College London | Type of research: Early detection