Supporting the

Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

NPF Awards £25,000 Grant for Research in Molecular Genetics in PNETs

Jan 25, 2019

NET Patient Foundation and UKINETs awarded two £25,000 grants in 2018. One of our worthy winners is Kate Lines, a PostDoctoral Researcher, who works at the Radcliffe Department of Medicine in Oxford, alongside Professor Raj Thakker. She is continuing her work on molecular genetics in Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours.

“I am delighted and very grateful to have been awarded NET patient foundation award at this years UKINETs meeting. I am very much looking forward to beginning the study. As an early career scientist this grant is especially important as the data generated from the project will help form the basis of my future NET research career”.

“The aim of the project is to develop a new drug for the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNETs). We have previously shown that a drug called JQ1, which inhibits the function of a family of proteins called the BET family, could reduce the number of PNET cells in the laboratory. This family of proteins help to control the expression of genes that promote tumour cell growth and prevent tumour cell death, by binding to chemical marks in specific DNA regions, also known as epigenetic regulation. Therefore, by inhibiting the activity of the BET proteins we were able to prevent the cell growth and increase cell death.

Although JQ1 has shown promising results in PNETs, similar to a chemotherapy, it can act on any cell that expresses the BET proteins, and therefore may have side effects. The focus of this study is therefore to generate a new drug that specifically targets JQ1 only to NET cells or tissues. To do this we are using a man made version of the hormone somatostatin, called a somatostatin analogue. Receptors that somatostatin binds to are only expressed in certain endocrine tissues, and are seen in high levels in PNETs. Therefore by making a drug with a somatostatin analogue joined to JQ1, we plan to target JQ1 only to the PNET cells. We will test the ability of this new somatostatin-JQ1 drug to reduce the number of PNET cells. If successful, the ultimate aim is to use this data to plan a clinical trial of the somatostatin-JQ1 drug in PNET patients.”