Hormone signaling and non-coding RNAs in cancer - Cecilia Williams
The research of Williams’ group focuses on understanding key molecular mechanisms in cancer, applying a combination of large-scale genomic approaches, focused mechanistic experiments and animal studies. The goal is to understand critical pathways so that we can define biomarkers of their activity and suggest better cancer treatments and preventive approaches.
The hormone estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer, but can simultaneously protect against colorectal cancer. It is not understood exactly how, but if we can achieve a detailed knowledge of this mechanism, we could design approaches that can protect against colon cancer while not promoting breast cancer. Estrogenic signaling is mediated by the estrogen receptors, ERalpha and ERbeta. They are ligand-activated nuclear receptors and as such excellent therapeutic targets. Williams research focuses on the estrogen-induced pathways in breast and colon cancer, and the impact that environmental or dietary estrogenic exposure may have. Related to this, is the identification of molecular mechanisms involving microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, molecules with great potential as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets. These molecules are, to various extents, regulated by the estrogen receptors and are likely to contribute to the estrogenic effects, but this area remains to be explored. Previous work include identification of the estrogen-regulated transcriptome and the roles of microRNAs in cell migration, with a focus on breast and colorectal cancer.
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