• Red Hot Award for Hypoxia Research

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Red Hot Award for Hypoxia Research

May 04 2011

Dr Janine Erler, from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), received the pioneer category of the Red’s Hot Women Awards last month, celebrating her significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge on hypoxic tumour cell research. Her investigations centre on the behavioural mechanisms that cancerous cells develop when subjected to low oxygen, or hypoxic conditions,

Led by Dr Erler, The Hypoxia & Metastasis Team, which forms part of the ICR’s Section of Cell and Molecular Biology, have identified a role for the lysyl oxidase (LOX) enzyme in helping tumours invade neighbouring tissue, as well as preparing the site so the cancer grows better once it reaches this tissue. As all solid tumours over 1cm3 contain regions of hypoxia, Dr Erler’s research relies on the ability to specify oxygen levels in her workstation from 0.1% up to 22.0%, to create precise environmental conditions. Using a hypoxia workstation, such as Don Whitley Scientific’s H35 Hypoxystation, Dr Erler’s team discovered that LOX is essential for hypoxia-induced metastasis. Interruption of the LOX enzyme is therefore a promising therapeutic target for preventing and treating metastases.

Dr Erler commented: “We’re a long way from seeing benefits in patients, but I still feel really optimistic about our rapidly growing understanding of these clinically problematic diseases. Metastasis is responsible for 90% of cancer-related deaths. My goal is to better understand what signals cancer needs to spread in order to develop more effective treatment strategies.”

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