Scottish Scientists Make Cancer Breakthrough

By Gabriel Neil

It was announced last week that scientists from the University of Dundee have made a discovery which could lead to a deeper understanding of how cancer occurs. The research team, led by Dr Joost Zomerdijk discovered a “previously hidden link” within the ways in which human cells make the structures they need to function, a process called “transcription” – specifically the way in which genes regulate ribosomes which produce proteins vital for growth. Understanding transcription is important in cancer research as when the genes controlling it fail, cells can grow out of control, creating cancers.

Dr Joost Zomerdijk
Dr Joost Zomerdijk led the study.

This breakthrough was hailed by Dr Zomerdijk, claiming that it “advances our understanding of how normal transcription is maintained in human cells” adding that this may help to discover how to reverse the damaging “deregulation” of transcription.

Dr David Wright a biologist from the University, who was not involved in the research, cautioned that this finding is “a tiny crucial cog in a complicated machine… it is not particularly important on its own” but it “ties the information that we already have about the ways in which cancer cells go wrong to our understanding of how normal cells do their jobs” which could possibly lead to new kinds of cancer therapies.

Dundee University’s College of Life Sciencesreceives over £40million of research funding annually is renowned for research into cell Biology, having recently been ranked 1st in the UK for Biological Sciences.

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