Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

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02 July 2015

Signalling Cancer

Gallbladder cancer is uniquely distributed globally, with most cases seen in India, Pakistan and Egypt. Risk factors include inflammation of the gallbladder and, markedly, infection with Salmonella Typhi bacteria. Salmonella is endemic in India and can lead to chronic infection when it enters the gallbladder. This epidemiological overlap led researchers to wonder if there’s a causal link with cancer. They found that when the bugs infect a cell they activate certain cellular molecules, which happen to help the bugs survive. It turns out that these molecules are the same ones that are crucial in the transformation of genetically predisposed cells to cancerous ones. Here, 2D images placed on top of each other create a ‘movie’ from multiple viewpoints. Shown are gallbladder cells (green and blue) grown as an ‘organoid’ in the lab, that have been infected with S. Typhi (red), allowing the team to study the transformation to cancer.

Written by Katie Panteli

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