New insights into cell death

Mar 18, 2011
New insights into cell death
Dr. Richard Clarkson

A Cardiff team has contributed to a study of a novel model of cell death which helps to explain how cells in the breast die through an archaic mechanism that is relevant to breast cancer.

Dr Richard Clarkson’s research group was part of a consortia of international research laboratories led by a Cambridge University research group that has revealed a novel mechanism of cell death which occurs in a normal mammalian organism.

Billions of damaged or superfluous die in our bodies every day. It is thought that most cell death occurs by a process called apoptosis, in which biochemical events lead to cell changes and death. However, the Cambridge-led team has shown that cells in the breast die following lactation by a process that involves lysosomes. These are organelles which digest and recycle cellular components. This is the first time that this type of cell death has been shown to occur in a healthy mammal. The research team provides evidence that this process is regulated by proteins found at high levels in breast cancer.

Dr. Clarkson’s contribution was to provide a key piece of evidence that proved that the cells could not be dying by apoptosis, as was originally thought.

Dr. Clarkson, of the School of Biosciences, explained: "We used some state-of-the-art transgenics techniques to inhibit the ability of the cells within the mammary glands to undergo apoptosis and thus proving that these cells die by another route"

Dr. Clarkson said that Professor Watson’s team at the Department of Pathology in Cambridge, who led the study, had made a significant contribution to our understanding of how cells make the decision to die for the benefit of the whole organism.

The research, published in Nature Cell Biology, was funded by studentships from the University of Cambridge Department of Pathology, the Breast Cancer Campaign, and the Medical Research Council as well as the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who directly contributed to the generation of the models used in Dr. Clarkson’s work.

Dr. Clarkson added "The next steps for our cell death model is to establish whether is kept under control by apoptosis, or whether archaic mechanisms also play a dominant role in the pathologenesis of the disease"

Explore further: Two-armed control of ATR, a master regulator of the DNA damage checkpoint

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Key step in the 'puncture' mechanism of cell death revealed

May 12, 2008

A team of medical researchers led by Dr Ruth Kluck at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) has discovered a key step in the mechanism by which cells destroy themselves. In this process, called “apoptosis”, ...

Potential new therapeutic molecular target to fight cancer

Nov 01, 2007

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have identified the enzyme sphingosine kinase 2 as a possible new therapeutic target to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for colon and breast cancer.

Recommended for you

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

Dec 19, 2014

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

Dec 18, 2014

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.