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Voice from the Lab: Dr. Niklas Feldhahn

I am currently an early career researcher and junior group leader at Imperial College London. Action Against Cancer supports my work investigating the underlying mechanisms that promote genome instability during cancer initiation as well as the functions of recurrent genetic alterations found in cancer and haematological malignancies.

Cancer initiation and progression is characterized by the loss of genome integrity and genomic alterations arising as a consequence can be beneficial to cancer cells if they lead to the activation or suppression of crucial cellular functions that promote or interfere with the viability of the cancer cell, respectively.

What are you currently working on?

Most of the research my team undertakes requires the generation of large data sets that are analysed by a bioinformatician. With the support of Action Against Cancer, we recently showed that during leukaemia initiation pre-leukemic cells suffer from transcription-associated genomic instability leading to increased fragility of cell type-specific genes, which are often genetically altered in haematological tumours. Hence, our results suggest that transcription-associated genomic instability is a driver of genomic alterations in haematopoietic cancer cells.

Another project funded by Action Against Cancer investigates genetic alterations in metastatic vs. non-metastatic tumours of pancreatic origin. By using whole genome sequencing as a method we aim to identify genomic alterations associated with the propensity to promote metastasis that could serve as potential targets for therapy.

What motivates you?

Research is a continuous process that uncovers important information, which can be useful and beneficial for cancer patients and current therapies. The moments of finding answers to open questions, especially if they allow better targeting of cancer cells, are the main driver of my work.

Read more Voices from the Lab here: Dr. Silvia Ottaviani, Rosemary Lane, Neha Tabassum, Dr. Philip Lawton and Dr. Elena Lopez-Jimenez.

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