Molecular Basis of Cancer Cell Invasion

Tumour invasion is the cellular process that initiates the spread of cancer cells from the primary tumour to new sites in a patient’s body (metastasis). Inhibiting this process is important, as solid tumours are much more readily surgically removed if metastasis hasn’t yet occurred. Researchers have identified Dihydromotuporamine C (dhMotC) as a novel tumour invasion inhibitor that may have therapeutic potential. Lianne McHardy is investigating the molecular mechanisms of this compound, focusing specifically on how the protein SNF7 is involved in these mechanisms. SNF7 is normally required for the sorting of intracellular vesicles, which are a basic tool of the cell for organizing metabolism, transport, enzyme storage, as well as being chemical reaction chambers. Lianne will investigate a potential link between the mechanisms controlling vesicle sorting and the invasion abilities of a tumour cell. By pinpointing the mechanisms that allow for metastasis, her studies may aid in the development of dhMotC as a potential drug candidate for metastatic cancers.