From a single molecule: Understanding the mechanisms of blood cancer development
Lead researcher: Professor Ian Hitchcock, Department of Biology
Research in the Hitchcock group is focused on understanding the mechanisms of blood cell development using techniques that focus on single molecules.
Many cancers are caused by mutations in genes that result in uncontrolled cell growth. The myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a group of blood cancers characterised by the overproduction of red blood cells and/or platelets. In addition to being the most common myeloid cancer, MPNs also represent an excellent disease model to study malignant clonal expansion and mechanisms of oncogene activation, allowing the investigation of therapies that target the system-wide early dysregulation, thereby preventing transformation to more aggressive forms of leukaemia.
Research by Professor Hitchcock’s group has identified a key interaction between a cell surface receptor and a mutated protein which is essential for MPN development. Taking a novel interdisciplinary approach, the Hitchcock lab and its collaborators have determined these interactions at the level of single molecules, allowing the development of novel therapy agents to block these interactions. Other projects in Professor Hitchcock’s lab focus on understanding the causes of clotting disorders in MPN patients, bone marrow changes in non-cancerous blood diseases and how chronic infection affects platelet number and function.
Professor Ian Hitchock uses inter-disciplinary methods to determine receptor-oncogene interactions at single molecule level.