International team receive $1.2 million boost for NET research

Chrissie grant pic

A scientific collaboration between UCL, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, UCSF Medical Centre and the UCL Cancer Institute / Royal Free Hospital London has been awarded a $1.2m accelerator grant from the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) to help advance research into small intestine neuroendocrine tumours (SI-NETs).

Principal Investigators, Dr Matthew Meyerson (Dana-Farber), Dr Eric Nakakura (UCSF) and Dr Chrissie Thirlwell (UCL), are using the funding to support a research programme that aims to find the cause or causes of SI-NETs. The team’s approach has the potential to identify inherited, somatic (non-inherited) genetic, epigenetic and infectious causes of SI-NETs.

Almost all cancers are known to be caused by harmful changes in the DNA of cells. The specific changes in DNA that convert normal cells of the small intestine into neuroendocrine tumour cells are not yet understood. However, this could be set to change as rapid advances in DNA sequencing technology now provides a tremendous opportunity to study SI-NET DNA in more detail – something that the research team hope to exploit to its full potential.

“We are investigating all credible possibilities.” says Dr Chrissie Thirlwell, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Medical Oncologist at UCL Cancer Institute and the Royal Free Hospital, “We are questioning whether SI-NETs are caused by DNA changes in later life or by aberrant genes inherited at birth; environmental influences or infectious agents – or is it a combination of all these factors? In addition, we’ll be investigating the cell of origin for these tumours – a really exciting part of the project. By utilising single cell sequencing approaches, we can try and uncover which cells initiate SI-NET tumour formation. This information can then be used to develop of cellular or animal models for use in further research.”

For more information, please visit the UCL website…