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  • Posted: 04/11/2013
NCI Cancer Center News

UNC researchers engineer 'protein switch' to dissect role of cancer’s key players

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have “rationally rewired” some of the cell’s smallest components to create proteins that can be switched on or off by command. These “protein switches” can be used to interrogate the inner workings of each cell, helping scientists uncover the molecular mechanisms of human health and disease. In the first application of this approach, the UNC researchers showed how a protein called Src kinase influences the way cells extend and move, a previously unknown role that is consistent with the protein’s ties to tumor progression and metastasis. UNC is home to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.