Andrew Cox – Liver Scholar Award
Andrew Cox, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
New England Run for Research Liver Scholar Award
ALF-supported researchers are studying the fundamental mechanisms that set the stage for many forms of liver disease. Among them is liver cancer.
One of our 2014 grantees, Andrew Cox, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recipient of the New England Run for Research Liver Scholar Award, is studying the role of the Hippo pathway in cell fate determination and cancer.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CC) are the two most common forms of liver cancer. They share common risk factors, such as viral hepatitis, alcohol, and diabetes, suggesting that these cancers may be caused by the same cellular circuits.
Currently, there are very few drugs available to treat HCC and CC effectively. Many patients die of their disease, highlighting the need for better therapies that inhibit the signals and cell types driving tumor growth.
The Hippo pathway is a newly discovered cellular signaling circuit that plays a key role in instructing the liver to grow. It is also involved in tumor formation in the liver. In Dr. Cox’s research, he and his team use zebrafish (Danio rerio) to study liver development and cancer. Their research has shown that manipulation of the Hippo pathway makes fish prone to developing liver tumors. They hypothesize that the Hippo pathway regulates the liver cell and is responsible for starting these cells on a path towards cancer.
With ALF funding, Dr. Cox and his colleagues are further studying the role that the Hippo pathway plays in cancer formation. What they glean could help with the discovery of targeted therapeutics to combat HCC and CC.
Dr. Cox also received the 2011 Irwin M. Arias, MD, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award.
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