Cancer cells accumulate genetic alterations that promote tumor growth and tumor progression. These alterations make the tumor cells different from normal cells, and these differences can be exploited to kill only the cancerous cells. The goal of this proposal is to identify specific gene functions that cancer cells require to live, but that healthy cells do not require.
Systematic inhibition of every single gene in the genome represents the best strategy to identify these differences between normal cells and tumor cells; however, the lack of proper genetic tools has historically prevented these studies. Silva and colleagues pioneered the development of RNAi-based genetic tools that allow them to perform these studies. He proposes to use these cutting-edge tools to systematically turn off every gene in the genome of breast cancer cells to identify those genes that, when absent, compromise the ability of cancer cells to survive, but do not affect normal cells. The ability to screen the entire genome in a high-throughput approach will accelerate the identification of important players in cancer cell biology and could provide new targets for more efficient and less harmful breast cancer therapies.
José M. Silva, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at the Institute for Cancer Genetics at Columbia University Medical Center
Watch a video interview of José M. Silva, Ph.D.
Updated: Mar. 18, 2010