P-glycoprotein, ABC transporters and genomics in cancer research

My research focuses on genes that play a role in the development of cancer, with a particular interest in genes that help malignant cells survive by limiting the effects of anti-cancer drugs. Our research team was the first to discover a protein (P-glycoprotein) on the surface of cancer cells that resists multiple cancer drugs. The protein protects cancer cells by pumping out drugs before they inflict lethal damage. With recent advances in genome science, the team has learned that proteins similar in structure to this one are present in more than 50 genes in the human genome. What these genes do in normal cells or in malignant ones is not yet fully understood. This is one of the questions that our team of more than 40 clinicians and scientists in the Cancer Genomics Program are working to answer. By analyzing how these genes act in normal tissue, and in cancers that are or are not responsive to drug therapy, we hope to identify markers (changes in the molecular structure or function of cells) that will be useful in diagnosing specific cancers earlier. Our goal is more effective treatment and, better still, more effective preventive measures.