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2015 Research Grants

The role of sulforaphane in microtubule dynamics and organisation in health and cancer microtubule dynamics and organisation in health and cancer 
Amount Funded: 
£96,334 (36 months starting 1 Oct 2016)

Research Organisation:
School of Biological Science, UEA

Grant Applicants: 
Dr Mette Mogensen
Senior Lecturer in Cell & Developmental Biology
Dr Paul Thomas
Manager of Henry Wellcome Imaging facility
Dr Elizabeth Lund
Honorary Senior Lecturer

Lay Summary of Research: 
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common diseases in the developed world and a major cause of cancer deaths. It is a multistep process leading to the conversion of normal colonic mucosa into adenomas and invasive carcinomas. The process can take several years thus making preventative interventions possible. Epidemiological studies suggest that intake of broccoli, which is a rich source of sulforaphane (SFN), reduces the risk of cancer. Studies suggest that SFN is a potential anti-cancer agent able to inhibit both cancer initiation and progression. SFN can suppress cancer development by affecting several pathways including those involving cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Many of these processes depend on microtubules, however, relatively little is known about the effect of SFN on microtubules. The gut epithelium is continually being renewed and goes through cycles of cell division, migration, differentiation and apoptosis and our in vitro gut organoid model closely mimics in vivo gut morphogenesis. The gut organoid system is thus an ideal model to study the effect of SFN on microtubule dynamics and organisation during epithelial differentiation. The aims of this PhD studentship are to investigate the effect of SFN on microtubule dynamics and function and in particular with regard to spindle orientation and apico-basal polarisation during gut differentiation. This is important in order to fully understand the potential benefits of SFN in cancer prevention and treatments.

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