Professor Anton Gartner has been awarded a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) grant totalling quarter of a million to fund his research into cancer.

Professor Gartner’s lab recently discovered a new mechanism used by cells to protect chromosome integrity. This pathway allows cells to resolve DNA linkages between separating chromosomes just before cells divide. Failure in these mechanisms result in pathologies linked to cancer development and the team now want to understand this process in greater detail. The funded project is supported by Professors David Lilley and John Rouse.

Professor Gartner said, “This is a generous award which will allow us to work out a ‘last chance saloon’ mechanism that allows cells to fix DNA linkages between separating chromosomes just before cells divide. Support for two postdoctoral positions will allow us to work out the details of this mechanism.

“While we normally work on a tiny nematode worm called C. elegans, which serves as an experimental model organism, we will now also tackle the same process in human cells. This is important as the key gene involved in the last chance mechanism we study is implicated in breast and ovarian cancer, but it is not known how it works. This is exactly what we want to find out.”

The BBSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, the body set up to work in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. The organisation invested £498 million in world-class bioscience in 2017-18 and supports around 1600 scientists and 2000 research students in universities and institutes across the UK.