Identifying and Destroying the Cancer Messenger
Messenger ribonucleic acid(RNA) is the channel through which information stored in genes is translated into proteins. By identifying of the gene sequence, it is possible to predict cellular function and treat complex diseases such as cancer. However, cancer cells with the same sequence of genes can have different phenotypes (or characteristics), and one messenger RNA can produce hundreds of proteins with different functions.
Dr. Sherif Abou Elela, Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Cancer Genomics, is seeking to better understand the biology of cancer cells. He is doing so by examining how RNA maturation and degradation can define the basic mechanisms of cellular functions. His goal is to identify cancer biomarkers and drug targets.
Abou Elela has already shown that RNA is a major source of cancer biomarkers and can predict tumour behaviour and drug resistance. His research has also indicated that messenger RNA is programmed to respond to cellular signals and degrades rapidly under exposure to drugs and other cellular stresses. Abou Elela aims to, based on the results, develop a model to explain how RNA production and degradation can influence cellular functions.
Abou Elela’s research will help transform basic knowledge of cell biology into powerful tools for the detection of and fight against cancer.