Transgenic Technology


 strathdee 2023

 Dr Douglas Strathdee

Head of Transgenic Technology Facility

During the development of cancer, cells frequently lose attributes of their tissue of origin and acquire some of the characteristics of stem cells, a process termed anaplasia. The aim of the research in our lab is to use stem cells to model the processes underlying cancer and to uncover the roles that novel stem cell and reprogramming factors play in the development of the disease. Using embryonic stem (ES) cells we are developing and improving models of human cancer. The targeted genetic modification of such cells allows us to study genes involved in cancer in fine detail so as to better understand their normal function and how these functions are compromised during the development of cancer.

Once modified ES cell lines are established, not only can gene function be analysed in the stem cells themselves but these cells can be differentiated into a wide variety of different cell types to allow the study of basic disease mechanisms in different tissues and potentially to establish screens for drug discovery. In addition, it is possible to reverse the differentiation process and reprogramme a variety of somatic cells to induced pluripotential stem (iPS) cells. This process is reminiscent of anaplasia, the loss of differentiation seen in cancer. Genes crucial for this type of reprogramming are often involved in cancer development.