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New biology of oncogenic PI 3-kinase

Objective

PI 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling regulates multiple cell functions and is one of the most frequently genetically-activated pathways in cancer. This is mainly due to activating mutations in PIK3CA (the gene encoding the PI3Kα catalytic subunit) or inactivation of the tumour-suppressor PTEN (which opposes PI3K signalling).

Solid tumours are most often hypoxic and nutrient-starved. The central premise of my proposal is that PI3K signalling has thus far been predominantly investigated under experimental settings not representative of these cancer-relevant tissue contexts. In our view, this has resulted in an incomplete understanding of PI3K biology in cancer. Based on this assertion, I have formulated two key objectives:
(1) To uncover previously-unappreciated signalling mechanisms of oncogenic PIK3CA under cancer-relevant conditions of long-term starvation and/or hypoxia.
(2) To understand the mechanism of cell death induced by an innovative, new type of PI3K modulators, generated by the Host Lab, that kill PIK3CA-mutant cancer cells under hypoxic conditions.

These objectives will be achieved by, respectively:
(1) Biased and unbiased genetic and pharmacological approaches in cells and mice, including probing signalling under conditions of (A) nutrient and/or oxygen starvation (B) sustained low-level signalling due to genetic PIK3CA activation in the heterozygous state and from the endogenous promotor, as is the case in cancer.
(2) Using unique small-molecule PI3K pathway modulators developed in the Host Lab, in cell-biological and signalling studies.

These objectives will merge my expertise in signalling under nutrient-starved conditions with world-class know-how in PI3K cancer studies and drug development in the Host Lab. This proposal aims to make scientific breakthroughs in understanding cancer-related PI3K signalling, promoting the progression of my career and allowing the Host Lab to achieve its key long-term aim to make PI3K-based cancer therapies work.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/mutation
  • /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/oncology/cancer

Call for proposal

H2020-MSCA-IF-2018
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 212 933,76