Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cycling and Cancer
02 June 2012

Cycling and Cancer

Millions of new cells are being made in your body as you read this sentence. Scientists measure the cell cycle from the point of birth to the point at which a cell divides again. There are many checks and balances that ensure smooth progression through the cycle. Accidents will happen, however, and cancer ensues when the balance goes askew. Cells divide uncontrollably to form tumours. This can occur when some proteins block the production of others, interrupting the cell cycle. Under the microscope this fruit fly larvae wing has been dyed (green) to reveal posterior sex combs (PSC), a protein that can block the cell cycle. Somehow it hampers the production of cyclin B, one of the key ‘managers’ of this cycle. Scientists here try to decipher at which stage the blockage is implemented. Blockage must occur after the signal to make cyclin B (red line).

Written by Andrew Purcell

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