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IIT-B centre to focus on cancer invasion, protein structure

Posted on: January 28, 2012

Source: Indian Express
The reason why cancer spreads in the human body, the ways in which it can be prevented and protein structure and aggregation have been identified as thrust areas of the Wadhwani Research Centre in Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Bombay, where work in a focused manner will start soon.

IIT Bombay had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2008 with the Wadhwani Foundation to set up the centre. Romesh Wadhwani, IIT Bombay alumnus and chairman of Wadhwani Foundation, had then pledged $5 million in this regard.

“Since the MoU, we have had several discussions to identify key research areas. We have decided to focus on understanding cell motility and cancer invasion. Cells in the human body are normally fixed and whenever they become cancerous, they become tumours. There’s another kind where (cancerous) cells grow in one place and move to another and this is how cancer spreads. The phenomenon is called ‘metastasis’ and there’s not much understanding how it happens. It’s thus crucial to understand what structures are involved for the cells to move,” said Prof Narayan S Punekar, head of IIT Bombay’s Department of Biosciences & Bioengineering.

Faculty at this department will be affiliated to the centre to carry out their research. “From 13 faculty three years ago, we now have 22. Cancer invasion is a hot field and we have expertise in it. We intend to address a key question as to how cytoskeletal protein dynamics affect cell motility and migration. Our department has 120 research scholars and a substantial number will be involved in the centre,” he said.

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